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Posts By / Rachel Bowen

Final chance to submit an abstract to BU’s undergraduate research conference

There are only a few days left for current undergraduate students and recent graduates to submit their abstract to SURE – our undergraduate research conference.  We have already received a high number of applications, but would welcome further submissions, as it’s great opportunity for students to share their research in a supportive environment.

If you’re in contact with your students over the next few days, please do encourage them to apply.

How to apply

To apply to present at SURE 2018, students will need to submit an application form, which includes a 250 word abstract, to sure@bournemouth.ac.uk.  Please read our ‘how to apply’ guidance first.

Abstracts will be accepted for oral or poster presentations.  If a student would like to present your research through another medium – a film, art exhibition or performance – please contact sure@bournemouth.ac.uk initially.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is Thursday, 21 December, 2017.

 


Prizes

Best overall contribution – a fee waiver to any BU Master’s

Best original research via oral presentation – 4 x £350 funding (1 per Faculty) for students to attend and present their research at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Best poster, demonstration or art installation: 4 x £25 Amazon voucher (1 per Faculty)

 


Conference attendance

SURE 2018 will take place on Wednesday 7 March 2018.  Registration for the conference will open in January 2018.

Staff and students from across BU are encouraged and welcome to attend.


 

For any queries, please contact sure@bournemouth.ac.uk or visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/SURE2018.

BU’s Professor Tim Darvill nominated for Archaeologist of the Year 2018

Professor of Archaeology Tim Darvill has been shortlisted for Archaeologist of the Year 2018 by Current Archaeology magazine.

It is the 10th annual Current Archaeology Awards, celebrating the projects and publications that have been in the magazine over the past 12 months.

Professor Darvill, who is also Director of the Centre for Archaeology and Anthropology at BU, said: “It is a real honour to even be shortlisted for such an award and, of course, wouldn’t be possible without the colleagues I’ve worked alongside.”

Tim has directed many projects, including an excavation in 2008 at Stonehenge together with Geoff Wainwright. Today, Timothy is the only person alive who’s directed an excavation inside the monument’s stones.

Outside of the UK, he has led projects in Germany, Russia, Greece, Malta and the Isle of Man.

Tim has also published widely on archaeology and has given local, regional and national TV and radio interviews on the subject.

Voting closes on 5 February 2018 and the winners will be announced on 23 February.

You can find out more information and cast your vote for Archaeologist of the Year here.

Inaugural lecture: #hashtags, handhelds and handbags: enabling students to blend life and learning

In this public lecture Professor Debbie Holley will explore the impact of technology as an enabler as our students navigate their way through increasingly complex and ‘messy’ lives, juggling debt, work, caring responsibilities and study. Technology is not only a tool, but offers insights into the lives of others, and possibilities of building networks and studying in different spaces. What should our response as educators be?

This interactive lecture will be preceding by a one hour ‘suite of innovation’ where attendees will be able to try out some of the innovations in learning BU offers its students, including Oculus Rift, Google Cardboard, augmented reality, Mentimeter and BU’s new Virtual Learning Environment ‘Brightspace’ . Our Learning Technology team will be on hand to help you get set up to tweet the event (#TalkBU), to download Google Cardboard App, Zappar App and chat about their work.

Professor Holley is the Professor of Learning Innovation and the Head of our Centre for Excellence in Learning at Bournemouth University. A passionate educator, she is a National Teaching Fellow and Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. A JISC ‘Digital Expert’, she leads on digital innovation to encourage students to blend and personalise their learning inside and outside the formal classroom. Internationally her work is acknowledged through her research into the student experience and education futures.

You can book your free tickets here.

SURE 2018 – applications for BU’s undergraduate research conference close on 21 December

Bournemouth University’s annual undergraduate research conference – Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) – returns for a third year in March 2018

As well as giving students a supportive platform to showcase the quality of work they do, it gives others at BU an insight into the excellent research undertaken by our undergraduates.  Not only is it a unique opportunity to further develop skills, prizes will also be available which include a fee waiver for a Master’s course at BU for the best overall contributor.

All undergraduate students at BU are eligible to apply, as are recent graduates.  Examples of research could be anything from preparing for a dissertation or an essay to work carried out during a placement year to volunteering or work with academic societies.  The key criteria is to be able to evidence critical thinking through the work.

The submission deadline for abstracts is 21 December.  Please do encourage your students to apply.

You can download two lecture slides showing the benefits of taking part in SURE here..


How to apply

To apply to present at SURE 2018, students will need to submit an application form, which includes a 250 word abstract, to sure@bournemouth.ac.uk.  Please read our ‘how to apply’ guidance first.

Abstracts will be accepted for oral or poster presentations.  If a student would like to present your research through another medium – a film, art exhibition or performance – please contact sure@bournemouth.ac.uk initially.

The deadline for submitting abstracts is Thursday, 21 December, 2017.

 


Prizes

Best overall contribution – a fee waiver to any BU Master’s

Best original research via oral presentation – 4 x £350 funding (1 per Faculty) for students to attend and present their research at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Best poster, demonstration or art installation: 4 x £25 Amazon voucher (1 per Faculty)

 


Conference attendance

SURE 2018 will take place on Wednesday 7 March 2018.  Registration for the conference will open in January 2018.

Staff and students from across BU are encouraged and welcome to attend.


 

For any queries, please contact sure@bournemouth.ac.uk or visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/SURE2018.

Research from Bournemouth University animation lecturers forms part of Paisley’s 2021 City of Culture bid

A new digital artwork created by two animation lecturers from Bournemouth University, Paul Smith and Vicky Isley, has been featured as part of Paisley’s 2021 City of Culture bid. The project linked together Paisley’s history, cultural and natural environment through the creation of a digital Paisley Pearl for each resident of the town. The project was commissioned by the University of the West of Scotland, as one of a number of cultural activities taking place in Paisley during its application for the City of Culture 2021.

The duo, known as boredomresearch, developed an art project which created a new Paisley form for each resident of the town via a digital loom. The loom and creative software have the potential to create a Paisley Pearl for each of the 7.4 billion people on earth at the time of the artwork’s launch. The unique forms were based on both the Paisley pattern and the freshwater pearl mussel, once indigenous to the area.

Paisley Pearls Print

“We wanted to produce an art project which reflected Paisley’s industrial past, natural biodiversity and show how creativity can make a difference to its future,” explains Paul, “Paisley is famous for its connections with the textile industry, but its natural history is much less well known. The White Cart River was once a thriving habitat for the freshwater pearl mussel, which is now extinct in the area, partly because of the success of the local textile industry damaging its natural habitats.”

A key part of the project for Vicky and Paul was this link between science and art. By working with researchers from the University of Glasgow, they developed a better understanding of the ecological importance of the fresh water pearl mussel, which they reflected in their art.

“Over half of the world’s fresh water pearl mussels are found in Scotland’s waters, so it’s an important location for a now critically endangered species,” says Vicky, “We worked with researchers who are trying to better understand the species and local staff from Pearls in Peril a conservation project who are trying to protect the mussel’s river habitat. The mussel’s pearls inspired our Paisley Pearl exhibition and the community workshops we delivered as part of the project.”

As part of their digital art commission, Paul and Vicky led three workshops in the local area, with very different groups of people. The first saw undergraduate animation and game students from the University of the West of Scotland dissecting common mussels to learn more about the shapes and textures that could be used to form part of the new Paisley inspired forms.

Mussel workshop with students from the University of the West of Scotland

“The session took them very much outside of their comfort zone,” says Paul, “Dissection doesn’t often take place in animation classes! We felt it was an important session to do, as it highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of our research and gave our students a much better understanding of the kinds of shapes and textures they could work with.”

“Once they’d dissected the mussels, we asked them to take digital images of the different parts and textures that they’d discovered. These fed into the kinds of shapes and patterns that we later used to form our unique Paisley Pearls.”

Two further workshops saw the team teaching programming to local secondary school children at Johnstone High School and working with Roar: Connections for Life (a community group of retired residents) to explore the lifecycle of the freshwater pearl mussel, in relation to their own lives.

Workshop with members of ‘Roar: Connections for Life’

“The group of retired residents, learnt how environmental changes are recorded in the growth rings of the mussel shell,” says Vicky, “These can tell you something about the age of the mussel and their environment; whether it was nutrient rich or not. We ask participants to map their own life experiences, marking out significant events on their own growth ring drawings. This helped us to facilitate in-depth conversations about the ecological significance of the mussel.”

“It was important for us to work with the local community as part of our commission,” continues Vicky, “Through the process of creating our final artwork, we wanted to work with local people to link Paisley’s past with its future.”

The decision about which city will become the 2021 City of Culture is expected in December.

For more information about Vicky Isley and Paul Smith’s research, visit their website or watch a short video on their Paisley project.

BU Academic’s success at Chartered Body for the Project Profession Awards Night

Karen Thompson,  Lecturer in the Faculty of Management, recently attended the annual Awards Ceremony of the Chartered Body for the Project Profession, the Association for Project Management.   TV icon and renowned editor John Pienaar was our host for the evening.  The venue was Old Billingsgate, a lovely old building that was formerly the London fish market.

Karen was delighted to receive the Herbert Walton Award for her research.  This award, “awarded at the discretion of the judges, recognises an excellent PhD dissertation submitted during the year at Doctorate level”, and the criteria reflect relevance to the practice of the profession.

Karen would like to pay tribute here to her two supervisors Profesor Brian Hollocks and Dr Paul Freedman for their tireless support and encouragement that led to this success.

In the photo with Karen is Russel Jamieson, co-chair of the APM People SIG and past Chairman of the Wessex Branch, who has been pivotal to collaboration between BU and the APM. Long may the fusion of project management professional practice, education and research continue!

Brightspace focus group

If your students have been using Brightspace this academic year, then BU’s Marketing & Communications Department would like to hear from them to find out what’s been good, what hasn’t, how it can be made better.

A discussion group is taking place at 12pm on Tuesday 28 November on Talbot Campus for an hour and as a thank you, students will be treated to some pizza.

All students at BU will be moving from myBU to Brightspace next September so their feedback will be really useful in making sure Brightspace meets the needs of our students. Responses will be kept anonymous.

If any of your students would like to take part, please email the project team with their course name and year of study, and they’ll be in touch with more details.

Ratko Mladić’s conviction and why the evidence of mass graves still matters

Ratko Mladić has been convicted of genocide and persecution, extermination, murder and the inhumane act of forcible transfer in the area of Srebrenica in 1995. He was also found guilty of persecution, extermination, murder, deportation and inhumane act of forcible transfer in municipalities throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina and of murder, terror and unlawful attacks on civilians in Sarajevo.

In addition, the former Bosnian Serb army general was convicted for the hostage-taking of UN personnel. But he was acquitted of the charge of genocide in several municipalities in Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1992.

The events that occurred in and around the Srebrenica enclave between July 10-19 1995, where an estimated 8,000 Bosnian Muslims, mostly men and boys, lost their lives, are well documented. These atrocities, culminating in the “biggest single mass murder in Europe” since World War II, not only resulted in a tremendous loss of life and emotionally scarred survivors, it also left behind a landscape filled with human remains and mass graves.

Forensic investigations into the Srebrenica massacre assisted in convicting Mladić, who stood accused for his involvement in implementing and orchestrating the forcible transfer and eventual elimination of the Bosnian Muslim population from Srebrenica. For the Srebrenica investigations, between 1996 and 2001, the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (ICTY) conducted exhumations at 23 sites, while a further 20 mass graves were probed to confirm that they contained human remains.

Srebrenica.
Martijn.Munneke/ Flickr, CC BY-SA

The investigative objectives for these investigations were to:
* Corroborate victim and witness accounts of the massacres;
* Determine an accurate count of victims;
* Determine cause and time of death;
* Determine the sex of victims;
* Determine the identity of victims (a process that is ongoing with the help of DNA analysis); and
* Identify links to the perpetrators.

The task of locating and exhuming mass graves in Bosnia continues, as does the general quest of locating the missing in the territory of the former Yugoslavia. And this evidence still matters for the ICTY. Evidence on hundreds of bodies exhumed from the Tomašica mass grave near Prijedor in the north-west of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was presented in the Mladić trial.

The summary judgment read out in the court room in The Hague made this very clear:

During several weeks in September and early October 1995, senior members of the VRS [Army of the Bosnian-Serb Republic] and the MUP [Ministry of the Interior] attempted to conceal their crimes by exhuming their victims’ remains from several mass graves, and then reburying those remains in more remote areas in Zvornik and Bratunac municipalities. Their attempt to cover up the Srebrenica massacres ultimately failed.

Such attempts at hiding crimes by digging up mass graves only to dispose of the bodies in so called “secondary mass graves” results in commingled and mutilated body parts rendering identification and repatriation of human remains all the more difficult. This causes further and prolonged distress to the survivor population and can be seen as intent to cause suffering.

Properly investigated forensic evidence from mass graves, the presentation of such physical evidence, the testing of expertise, independence and impartiality of the accounts in court, is likely to result in more reliable findings. In the case of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadžić forensic evidence helped confirm the crimes committed – it can be assumed that the same is the case for Mladić; at the time of writing the judgment in its entirety is not available yet.

The ConversationIt is well worth remembering that the information from forensic mass grave investigations has another purpose and does not only speak to a court of law. The work on the ground through organisations such as the International Commission on Missing Persons will continue as there are “too many people who are still searching for their children’s bones to bury”. Those forensic findings will have a value and meaning for family members and survivors that judgments such as the Mladić one cannot have. It offers them information on their lost loved ones and, hopefully, the return of their human remains.

Melanie Klinkner, Senior Lecturer In Law, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Workshop: Sharing your research with the media

Despite the increasing popularity of online media sources, traditional media outlets still tend to be the main way most people consume news.  Working with the media can be a very powerful way of sharing your research findings with the general public or with specialist audiences.  It’s a good way of disseminating your research, which can lead to impact further down the line.

As part of our new Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, we will be running a session about working with the media as one way of sharing your research.  This session is part of the ‘planning for impact and communicating research’ pathway.

This workshop will be led by BU’s PR manager, Nathaniel Hobby, who will take you through the basics of working with the press.

Date & time: Thursday 30 November  10am – 1pm

Location: Lansdowne Campus

For further information and to book, see BU’s staff intranet.

Postnatal depression: men get it too

Over the past few years, there has been an increase in media reports about postnatal depression and other maternal mental illnesses, and campaigns have led to greater understanding about the need for more specialist services. Although this is encouraging, very little is said about fathers. But men can get postnatal depression, too.

Currently, only mothers can be diagnosed with postnatal depression. The psychiatrists’ “bible”, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), includes a diagnosis of “peripartum depression”. Peripartum depression is a form of clinical depression that is present at any time during pregnancy, or within the four weeks after giving birth, although experts working in perinatal mental health tend to be more flexible, extending that period to the first year after giving birth.

In many ways, postnatal depression varies little from traditional depression. It, too, includes a period of at least two weeks where the person experiences low mood or a lack of motivation, or both. Other symptoms include poor sleep, agitation, weight changes, guilt, feelings of worthlessness, and thoughts of death and dying. But the biggest difference is that a depression at this time involves a significant additional person: the child.

Evidence suggests that the long-term consequences of postnatal depression on the child can be damaging, including developmental problems, poor social interaction, partner-relationship problems and greater use of health services (including mental health services).

Around 7-20% of new mothers experience postnatal depression. A common view is that it is caused by hormonal changes. Although this is partly true, it is far more likely that life factors are responsible, such as poverty, being younger, lack of support and birth trauma. Another potential cause is the sudden overwhelming responsibility of having a baby to care for, and the life changes that it entails.

Depressed mothers also feel intensely guilty about the way they feel about their baby, and fear shame and stigma from society. As a result, at least 50% of mothers will not report a mental health problem. Other mothers will not tell their health provider out of fear of having their child taken away by social services.

Prevalence of postnatal depression in men could be as high as 10%.
Pushish Images/Shutterstock.com

Mounting evidence

All of the above factors can equally apply to fathers. But there is no formal diagnosis of postnatal depression for fathers. Yet evidence from several countries, including Brazil, the US and the UK, suggests that around 4-5% of fathers experience significant depressive symptoms after their child is born. Some other studies claim that prevalence may be as high as 10%.

The cause of these feelings in fathers is similar to what we see with mothers, but there are extra complications. Men are much less likely to seek help for mental health problems, generally.

Societal norms in many nations suggest men should suppress emotion. This is probably even more a factor for fathers, who may perceive their role as being practical and providing for the family. Fathers – especially first-time fathers – might experience many sudden changes, including significant reduction in family income and altered relationships with their wife or partner. These are major risk factors for depression in fathers.

The importance for supporting fathers at this time is as vital as it is for mother. Evidence suggests that a father’s depression can have a damaging effect on their child’s development. Despite this, it has been shown that fathers are also less likely than mothers to seek help, and that health professionals are less likely to consider that fathers need support, compared with mothers. More evidence is needed to build a case that fathers need support as much as mothers.

Poorly equipped

The ConversationIt has been argued that, until recently, health professionals have been poorly equipped to recognise and treat mental illnesses associated with the birth of a child. Recent campaigns in the UK have led to changes in policy, funding and health guidelines. However, the recent revision of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guideline on perinatal mental health does not address fathers’ needs. Despite a campaign to address this having support from several professionals and academics, a NICE spokesperson told the BBC that guidelines are unlikely to be changed as there is no evidence that men experience postnatal depression. However, if we discount hormonal factors in new mothers, the remaining risk factors for postnatal depression also apply to fathers. And we need support that recognises that.

Andrew Mayers, Principal Academic in Psychology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

To find out more about writing for The Conversation, contact Rachel Bowen in RKEO (rbowen@bournemouth.ac.uk) or newsdesk@bournemouth.ac.uk.

The Conversation – media training for female academics

Bournemouth University have an ongoing partnership with The Conversation, a media outlet that encourages academics to submit and write news stories on their chosen subject.

The Conversation will be visiting Bournemouth University on Wednesday 22nd November 2017 for a day of training aimed at encouraging female academics in speaking to the media and writing for The Conversation.

In partnership with the Women’s Academic Network (WAN), female academics at Bournemouth University are invited to participate in the day, attend training with Conversation editor Laura Hood, and speak one-to-one and pitch ideas for news stories and articles based on your area of expertise.

The morning session will be a chance to find out more about The Conversation, and to speak openly about the role female academics can play in the media, and barriers that may be preventing this to happen.

Laura Hood will then remain at BU for the afternoon, where academics can book appointments to speak one-to-one about training needs, pitch ideas, or ask questions about getting more involved.

To register your interest in the day, and to attend the morning training session, email newsdesk@bournemouth.ac.uk

For a one-to-one session with Conversation editor Laura Hood, book a slot through our Doodlepoll: https://doodle.com/poll/eynvbfzcees44zhw

The Conversation partnership includes regular training sessions for Bournemouth University academics, with further training opportunities available for all academic staff in the coming months.

Nature, nurture & beyond: what underpins exceptional sport performance?

What makes an exceptional athlete? Are people born with innate abilities which help them to succeed or is sporting talent nurtured through practice and training? As part of his ‘Great British Medallists’ research project conducted for UK Sport, Professor Tim Rees explored the importance of both nature and nurture in the development of elite athletes. The findings, which will be shared as part of his inaugural lecture, identified some of the differences between elite athletes (non-medal winning Olympians) and super elite athletes – those winning Olympic gold medals.

Expectations of top level athletes are ever increasing, so research that can help identify strategies to improve performance can make a significant difference to results. As part of his lecture, Professor Rees will dispel some of the commonly held misperceptions around sporting performance and will discuss what the future holds in terms of supporting top athletes.

Professor Tim Rees is a leading authority on human performance and talent development, his work published in the most prestigious and high-impact academic publications and featured in all major media including extensive interviews for BBC Radio 4 and US National Public Radio. His ‘Great British Medalists’ project was the most downloaded Sports Medicine article of 2016, earning a nomination for the Times Higher Education Project of the Year. His specialism has led to speaking engagements, collaborations, and consulting appointments worldwide.

Bournemouth University’s inaugural lecture series aims to celebrate new professorial appointments and the depth and breadth of research produced by the university. For further information on the inaugural lecture series, please visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/public-lecture-series

About the event

To book your free ticket, click here.

Venue: AFC Bournemouth, Vitality Stadium, Dean Court, Kings Park, Bournemouth, BH7 7AF.

Date: Monday 20 November.

Time: 6:30pm for a 7pm lecture start.

Refreshments will be provided at the event.

For more information about the event, please contact Matthew Fancy: mfancy@bournemouth.ac.uk.

New research shows that active gaming technology could help people with Multiple Sclerosis

A new study published by Bournemouth University has shown that using the Nintendo Wii™ could help people with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) become more active.  Being more physically activity has a range of potential benefits, including better balance and posture, improved confidence and improved mood.

The study saw 30 participants trial the use of Wii Fit Plus™, Wii Sports™ and Wii Sports Resort™ games at home, following initial orientation and guidance from physiotherapists in a hospital setting.  People recorded how often they used the Wii™, as well as responding to a number of questionnaires exploring its effects.  Dr Sarah Thomas, lead researcher, explains the rationale behind the project:

“Physical activity is known to make a difference to the health and wellbeing of people with MS, but they often face greater barriers to participation.  I’d noticed from my own family that playing the Wii appealed across the generations and was interested to see whether its ease of use and accessibility would make a difference to people with MS,” says Dr Thomas.

“Conversations with the Dorset MS team showed that they’d been thinking along the same lines, as they’d noticed that the Wii was increasingly being used by their patients.  That’s what led us to develop a successful grant application to the MS Society.”

As part of the Mii-vitaliSe study, people with MS were allocated  at random to one of two groups – one which trialled the Wii intervention immediately alongside their usual care for 12 months, and one which started the Wii intervention after a 6 month delay.

“The people we worked with were relatively physically inactive at the beginning of the study,” explains Dr Thomas, “Through regular 1-2-1 sessions with a physiotherapist, they were able to develop individual goals, which they then worked towards achieving using the Wii™ in their own homes.”

“We found that people were using the Wii™ on average about twice a week, most often for balance exercises, yoga or aerobics,” continues Dr Thomas, “Our participants found it a fun and convenient way to increase their physical activity levels, with people reporting benefits such as reduced stress, increased confidence and better balance, among others.”

“In day-to-day life, people noticed improvements such as dropping fewer pegs when hanging out washing, finding it easier to get in and out of the shower and walking further.”

We hope to build on these promising initial findings by carrying out a large multi-centre trial to test whether this intervention is effective.”

The full study can be read here.

A briefing paper about the research can be found here.

A terrible fate awaits North Korean women who escape to China

As North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme and provocative missile tests draw the world’s attention, one crucial reality about the totalitarian regime has been left largely unnoticed: as bleak as life is for most who live in North Korea, it is often far worse for those who flee – most of whom are forced to suffer horrific human rights abuses away from the world’s scrutiny.

Since China shares a border with North Korea, it has become the first destination for desperate North Koreans who risk their lives to escape. An unofficial figure estimates that there are between 50,000 and 200,000 North Koreans living in China. The Chinese government denies most of them refugee status, instead treating them as economic migrants who have illegally crossed the border to seek work. Most have no formal identification or legal status. In addition, Beijing works together with Pyongyang to capture defectors and send them back, making their lives as escapees completely untenable.

I have interviewed many North Koreans now settled in the UK. Many of them told me they had been caught by the Chinese police and repatriated to the north a number of times, but managed to escape again and again. The combination of desperation, the denial of legal status and the terror of the Chinese police operation exposes these people to gross exploitation – especially women.

Among those who successfully leave North Korea, women make up the majority. In their search for freedom, many of them paradoxically end up being trafficked, detained and treated inhumanely because of their precarious and insecure positions in China as “illegal migrants”.

Vulnerability exploited

Drawn to what they hope is a guarantee of work, some women who cross the border are instead sold to Chinese or Korean-Chinese men in rural areas who cannot find wives due to poverty, undesirable living conditions, disability and the lopsided gender demographics created by the now-replaced one-child policy. Other women are abducted in public spaces, such as streets and trains, and forced into prostitution. As a survival strategy, a few women or family members volunteer themselves to be sold. Some are lucky enough to find decent and kind men, but they are a vanishingly small minority.

Most are locked up so they cannot escape. They are denied contact with their family members or friends, and often a whole village effectively becomes a community of guards to watch them so they cannot run. Many of the women forced into these relationships endure physical hardships, forced to work in the fields and do endless household chores. Some are trafficked to households with several men, where their keepers take turns to violate them on a regular basis.

During their captivity, many of them also become pregnant. If they manage to escape to other countries, such as South Korea, they are forced to leave their children behind – and since these children aren’t officially recognised in China, they are denied basic rights and entitlements, foregoing even basic healthcare and education.

And so even those fortunate enough to escape from their dire situations in North Korea and China are left with agonising worry and guilt about their left-behind children. Out of shame, many never talk about the intense pain they feel, instead suffering in lonely silence.

What must be done

A 2014 UN Commission of Inquiry report on the human rights situation in North Korea criticised the Chinese government for its violation of the human rights of North Korean refugees on a number of counts, including its repatriation of North Korean refugees, its failure to protect them from trafficking, and its refusal to recognise the children of North Korean women and Chinese men. However, the Chinese government rejected the commission’s report and refused to change its stance.

It is therefore time for the rest of the world to change the way it interacts with China. International organisations, governments and the media must apply even greater pressure on Beijing to change its policy towards North Korean refugees and the children they have in China; it must recognise that they’re entitled to refugee status by virtue of the human rights abuses they endure at home.

If governments are to act, their citizens and media must pressurise them to make this issue a higher priority. If a global campaign can gather enough momentum and strength, the Chinese government will be forced to listen and reconsider.

The ConversationIt may be a significant obstacle, but it is a challenge we can all play our part in. By demanding action, we can all support the fight against the sustained human rights abuse of desperate North Korean defectors and their invisible children. We might not be able to see it, but we know it’s happening – and we have a human duty to act.

Hyun-Joo Lim, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

It’s important to keep tourism afloat in areas that experience natural disasters

In 2016, tourism in the Caribbean saw a healthy growth of 4.7% and Mexico earned its place among the top ten tourist destinations. Tourism is an important source of income for both the Caribbean Islands and Mexico. In Mexico, the industry was responsible for 16% of total GDP in 2016, with North America its main source market.

Both the Caribbean and Mexico were recently in the headlines due to a series of natural disasters. Hurricanes Irma and Maria battered the Caribbean, causing widespread destruction and loss of life, and a deadly earthquake hit Mexico on September 19. Some 326 people have so far been reported dead in Mexico. Both the earthquake and hurricanes have left major infrastructural and super structural devastation in their wake. The search for survivors is ongoing. Bodies are being recovered and the significant loss of lives mourned.

How should the tourism industry respond to such disasters? Of course, the interests of holidaymakers are far from important now, but tourism is economically key to these countries. Currently, the mood is certainly not right for tourists to return to either Mexico or the worst-hit Caribbean islands. And besides the lack of infrastructure and security in affected areas means many would not want to go.

At the same time, developing countries such as Mexico need the income, employment opportunities and foreign exchange generated by tourism. If tourists stay away from such destinations the resident population will not only lose loved ones and belongings, they could also lose their livelihood. As such, it is important that the industry is not damaged too much.

The importance of this can be seen from past instances of disaster. Soon after the 2005 Boxing Day tsunami, for example, Thailand started its marketing campaign with Thaksin Shinawatra, Thailand’s prime minister, asking tourists to “stop fearing ghosts” and to return to the region. Similarly, in 2002, following the Bali bombing, the Indonesian minister of culture and tourism asked people to visit Bali, saying “it makes no sense to isolate them” (the people of Bali). So how much should we worry about this in the case of Mexico and the Caribbean?

The Caribbean sands that attract so many tourists.
Maridav / Shutterstock.com

Tourism has proven to be resilient industry, although it can be susceptible to shocks from risk-increasing events. Such disasters sometimes have large initial negative effects, but later these tend to decrease or even disappear. But potential tourists can become used to negative events if they occur frequently enough; the shock factor decreases over time.

This has been evident in the responses to the terrorist attacks in Europe that have occurred in recent years. The impact of shock initially put people off from travelling but in many cases there has been a strong rebound once the threat is perceived to have been removed. Overall, studies have shown that impact and recovery depends on a number of factors including destination and tourist type, the type of event, the frequency and scale of destruction.

An earthquake or a hurricane is quite different to an intentional terrorist attack, however. As such, once it is over the risk associated with it tends to diminish, unless the cause of it is perceived to remain. Therefore, given the strength of Mexico as a destination, the recent hurricanes and the Mexico earthquake may impact tourism less than we might expect.

Natural disasters tend to lead to considerable infrastructural damage which in itself impedes the recovery of tourism, in particular if it damages tourist-related infrastructure. In the case of Fukushima, in Japan, for example, multiple connected crises – an earthquake, causing a tsunami, which in turn triggered a nuclear disaster – resulted in a longer recovery time for the tourism industry. Tourist arrivals in Japan did not exceed their pre-disaster levels until early 2013.

The overwhelming majority of tourists going to Mexico and the Caribbean come from within the region, particularity from North America, they tend to be familiar with the hurricane season, although perhaps not earthquakes. Even though the earthquake in Mexico has affected the capital and around it, many tourists areas in the country remain untouched. It is important to pay respect to people who lost their lives during the earthquake, but as long as the foreign office are not advising against travel to these destinations, there may be more reasons to go than not.

The ConversationThe concept of leisure tourism might be seen as fractious when many people are suffering due to the natural disasters in Mexico and the Caribbean, but staying away and watching the scene on TV will not help Mexico to rebuild lives in affected areas. The tourist economy, however, might.

Yeganeh Morakabati, Associate Professor in Risk and Resilience, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Newly discovered 6m-year-old Cretan footprints stolen – finder writes about how we must protect precious sites

File 20170915 13360 lvndej
Vandalised site, showing fresh sand along the edges of the slab where it has been lifted and the holes left by the removal of two blocks in the centre.
Babis Fassoulas, Author provided

There has been a lot of interest in our discovery of nearly-6m-year-old footprints on Crete, first reported by the The Conversation – suggesting that human ancestors could have roamed Europe at the same time as they were evolving in East Africa.

Sadly the site was vandalised in the last week, with four or five of the 29 tracks stolen. We are fortunate that many of the best tracks remain – the people who did it clearly didn’t know what they were looking for. Our guess is that they were simply intending to sell them.

The theft occurred despite the site being afforded protection under Greek heritage law and being in the care of local officials. Police, we are told, have made an arrest in connection with the incident, and it is hoped that the missing material will be returned soon. The damage, however, is irreparable.

The site has now been buried.
Babis Fassoulas, Author provided

The Cretan authorities moved swiftly to bury the site temporarily while a more permanent conservation solution, such as moving the entire surface, is sought. We are lucky that the whole area has been 3D-scanned with an optical laser scanner in high resolution as part of the original study. In due course this data will be made available via the Natural History Museum of Crete and the Museum of Evolution at Uppsala University in Sweden. So there will fortunately not be much of an impact on the research.

Yet the event is devastating. To understand the significance to someone who studies ancient tracks like these, consider it equivalent to an attempt to steal part of the Sphinx at Giza or vandals dislodging one of lintel blocks at Stonehenge.

Unfortunately, the theft and vandalism of tracks is nothing new. For example, there was a recent case on the Isle of Skye in Scotland of vandalised dinosaur tracks dating from around 165m year ago that lead to a police probe. The ethics around the collection and sale of fossils and artefacts is complex, and many of the great scientific collections today are based on collection and sales by amateurs in the past. Ultimately, it seems wrong to collect and sell artefacts that there’s only a limited number of.

Conversation challenges

But how can you conserve what is essentially a slab of soft rock, close to the sea and open to the elements? Oddly, erosion at such sites is to be encouraged because it often helps reveal new surfaces which may contain additional prints.

It’s tricky – a problem I first faced following my discovery of the Ileret hominin footprints, the second oldest such tracks in the world at the time, and preserved in nothing but packed silt.

The site has been buried in haste to avoid further thefts.
Babis Fassoulas, Author provided

I did some research on this with colleagues and concluded that the only option is to excavate and digitally record them in 3D. This can be done either with a laser scanner or just with a digital camera in the field. Some 20 pictures of a track from different angles is enough to create a 3D image. These days 3D printers can easily create models for museums and for collectors.

Digital preservation is probably the key for the Cretan tracks as well. This worked well for the 2,100-year-old human footprints of Acahualinca
in Managua (Nicaragua), where the originals are perfectly preserved under a roof built over the site, and in an adjacent museum.

The 120,000-year-old human footprints at Nahoon Point in South Africa are marked by a footprint-shaped visitors’ centre that looks great from Google Earth. There are also a number of excellent examples of dinosaur track sites preserved in museums and under shelters, such as those at Las Cerradicas in Spain.

Perhaps the most controversial of conservation solutions has been to bury the world’s oldest confirmed hominin footprints – from Laetoli in Tanzania – which were first documented in the late 1970s. These tracks were buried as a way of protecting them from weathering and natural-decay.

There has been extensive debate about what should happen at this site and many scientists are unhappy about the lack of access. Plans for the site over the years have varied from an on-site museum to the removal of the whole slab to another site. The debate continues, but ultimately it is money that precludes a solution that would allow access to the public and scientists alike.

The footprints pictured in the research paper are still intact.
Author provided

Indeed, the challenge is always money. It is expensive to erect and maintain protective structures, and to gain funds you need publicity to ensure that all the stakeholders involved are aware of the scientific, social and emotional value of a site.

One of the reasons for publicising the Trachilos tracks was not only to get the discovery debated in open scientific circles, but also to raise its public profile – thereby seeking better protection and ultimately its preservation in a local museum. That would bring visitors and fuel local revenue.

The ConversationThe trouble is the very publicity aimed to assist the site’s protection may have led to an enhanced perception of its monetary value. After all, the site had been known locally for years. Publicity though, is a double-edged sword and we have been lucky on this occasion to avoid the full length of its blade.

Matthew Robert Bennett, Professor of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Bournemouth University

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.