We will be joined by Darren Lilleker at Februarys #TalkBU session, who will be discussing fake news and social media manipulation!
‘Whether Trump, Brexiteers, Remainers, Russian bots or Dubious Corporations, those who make up stories to sell us a product or an idea are many and various.
In this talk, Darren Lilleker will be discussing how what is known as ‘fake news’ can cause topics to trend, careers to be made and damaged and elections to be won and lost. Come along and be prepared to think and maybe talk about your own web surfing behaviour and the ways you have been or might be manipulated.’
The deadline for the research photography competition is tomorrow! If you have a photo that tells a story of your research and represents the theme of place then be sure to email it over to firstname.lastname@example.org by the end of tomorrow! Get creative!
The competition itself is set to be displayed in the atrium art gallery throughout the majority of March and so it is a nice opportunity for your research to be seen by those in the university!
The deadline for the research photography competition is this Wednesday (January 31st.)
Be sure to submit your photos, with a 100-200 word blurb to email@example.com to be involved in the event. We have already had some really good submissions and would love for as many more people as possible to get involved! It is a really good opportunity to showcase your research in a more creative way!
The Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence conference is a really good opportunity for students to present their research to an audience and looks great on their CV opening up a range of opportunities in the future. With the deadline being the 20th of January we ask that academics really encourage their students to submit their abstracts to firstname.lastname@example.org.
All undergraduate students at BU are eligible to apply, as are recent graduates. Examples of research could be anything from preparing for your dissertation or an essay, to work carried out during you placement year. to volunteering work or work with academic societies. The key criterion is to be able to evidence your own critical thinking through your work.
The ‘100 Voices that made the BBC: Pioneering Women’ website was launched Saturday 1st December 2018, looking into the history of women’s involvement in the BBC, showcasing oral histories that have been recorded over the last 50 years but were never made publically available. The content is produced, almost, exclusively by academics, including Bournemouth University’s Dr Kate Murphy, Principal Academic and Programme Leader of BU’s BA History course. Many great images, videos and archival documents can also be found on the website.
Before teaching at BU, Dr Kate Murphy worked at the BBC for 24 years, primarily as a producer on Radio 4’s ‘Woman’s Hour’, alongside studying for her part-time PhD at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her doctoral thesis from 2011 was re-written as a book, titled ‘Behind the wireless: An early history of women at the BBC’ and published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2016. She is now heavily involved in the ‘Connected Histories of the BBC’ project.
The ‘100 voices that made the BBC: Pioneering Women’ website is the fifth website created as part of the 5 year Arts and Humanities Research council (AHRC) funded project, headed by Professor David Hendy from the University of Sussex. The project is set to create a new digital catalogue of hundreds of rarely seen and heard audio and video interviews with former BBC staff and is linked to the forth coming centenary of the BBC in 2022.
Dr Kate Murphy’s expertise in the history of the BBC as a result of her 24 years of work put her in good stead to help curate the content of the website. She has worked closely with Dr Jeannine Baker of Macquarie University in Sydney, Deputy Director of the Centre for Media History, which BU’s Centre for Media History has a close working relationship with. Together, they have produced the overall shape of the Pioneering Women project, with Dr Kate Murphy further writing and curating 4 of the ‘essays’ on the site; ‘Early Pioneers’, ‘Women’s Programmes’, ‘Equal Opportunities?’ and ‘In Control’ all providing a deeper look into women in the BBC and the opportunities they had access to.
Furthermore, Dr Kate Murphy has produced a research blog for BBC History, connected to the work she has undertaken on the Pioneering Women website. The blog places focus on Isa Benzie and Janet Quigley, the two women who ran the BBC’s Foreign Department for a large proportion of the 1930s. The blog can be accessed here.
Museums are often perceived as dusty cabinets full off dead and ancient things, especially those institutions you’ve never heard off. You know the ones, the neglected pride of county towns that could play a vital cultural and social role but struggle for funding.
For some, technology is the answer, virtually recreating museums and their contents online, or launching fancy augmented reality smartphone apps that overlay videos of the real world with interactive computer-generated content. We certainly see the potential for such apps to make museums more exciting, especially to young people, and have recently been using them to bring dinosaurs to life.
But sadly our experience suggests visitors just aren’t keen on downloading these apps. So is there another way technology can help revitalise musuems and similar attractions?
Using the phone’s camera to scan a code on a notice board or flyer brings forward a 2D computer-generated image superimposed on the phone’s live camera feed. Users can see a troop of mammoths walk over the horizon with the real landscape behind, or have their selfies taken with a mammoth. We’ve since created our own free app that recreates augmented reality dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles and mammals in 3D, without the need to scan a code.
We deployed the mammoth and a T. rex at various events in 2017 and 2018, allowing visitors to pose for selfies. The tech was embraced enthusiastically, not just by children but by older generations as well. We found the sense of technological wonder coupled with a chance to strike a silly pose with an extinct animal really appealed to the visitors.
But when we first deployed the app at a museum, in summer 2018 at the Etches Collection on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast, it challenged our thinking. In fact, it stopped us dead. When we had staff on site to show people what was possible with our own tablets and phones, the technology had an impact and people were excited to see it in action (although they did not always download the app). But no one engaged when we relied on posters and banners to encourage visitors to download and use the app.
We failed at the first step, not due to a lack of interest in the technology or in the 3D dinosaurs deployed, but due to the fundamental reluctance of visitors to download museum apps. We have since found this experience to be shared by others, such as Skybox Museum, who also struggle to get visitors to download their app deployed at their site in Manchester. In fact, the feedback we’ve received so far suggests that simply getting people to download a museum app, rather than a problem with the underlying technology, is the biggest obstacle to its success.
What makes people download apps?
To find out why, we immersed ourselves in a growing body of consumer-based research on smartphone apps. It turns out that the characteristics of an app are less important when it comes to getting people to download it than whether they trust the makers, and that brand loyalty and familiarity help build this trust. We also know that the potential for social interaction and pure enjoyment are more important than the usefulness or educational value of an app. People want to be entertained, engage with others and are wary of potential risks to their phones and personal data.
So when you’re asked to download an app at the doors of a museum, the default position is to decline. It’s a hard sell, especially if you have children in tow. Promoting the app in advance helps but, even if you overcome this reluctance, people still want a guarantee of fun.
What’s the answer? Games are an obvious possibility. Which regular museum visitor hasn’t seen a horde of children with clipboards on some form of quest or hunt? Promising a fun game is perhaps the key to getting children to try the augmented reality we know can change a museum experience.
The alternative is to make such resources available without an app, and we are exploring this. One solution might be to enable visitors to access it through their phone’s internet browser or via a standard QR code. Another idea we are trialling is to preload the technology onto a tablet hired like an audio guide at a museum’s entrance. As the software doesn’t need downloading it can be more complex, for example using locational technology such as GPS that can prompt the user to activate the device at a given spot and offer content tailored to their visit. But this would make social interaction and downloading those fun-filled selfies harder.
We believe that technology has much to offer the museums of the future. In fact, we would argue it’s essential to their survival. In particular, mixed reality, a form of enhanced augmented reality where real people and objects are displayed in virtual worlds, has some exciting potential to create immersive, engaging and educational content. But for once, the smartphone may not hold the key.
#TalkBU is a monthly lunchtime seminar on Talbot Campus, open to all students and staff at Bournemouth University and free to attend. Come along to learn, discuss and engage in a 20-30 minute presentation by an academic or guest speaker talking about their research and findings, with a Q&A to finish.
Being able to understand the characteristics and behaviours of different types of personality can help you understand the people you are interacting with, as well as yourself. Join us in the exploration of personality profiles, using Jelly Babies to help change the way you view people.
In this talk, Amanda Wilding, will be discussing her research, which centres around understanding different personalities and the benefit this can have to our social interactions
Can you tell a story of your research through photography?
That’s the challenge we set academics and research students at Bournemouth University. Photography is a great way to capture and share a different side of your research with other staff, students and members of the public. The last few years have seen our staff and students submitting a wide range of images summing up their research (last year’s entries can be seen below).
Want to enter 2019’s competition?
Whether you’re in the early stages of your research or it has come to the end, we are inviting all academics and student researchers from across the university to showcase your research through an image relating to this year’s competition theme – Place. This could include:
An image relating to the place your research was carried out,
Places that might be impacted by or benefit from your research,
The place that inspired your research
Your own interpretation of the theme
Whatever your idea is, we want you to get involved and get creative!
Here’s what you have to do:
Step 1: Take your photo.
Each image will need to be 300pi (pixels per inch) with physical dimensions equivalent to an A3 size piece of paper (297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 in). Images smaller than this tend not to have a high print quality.
Step 2: Submit the photo!
You may enter only one photo per person. Once you have the perfect image, all you have to do is submit it by emailing the Research account (email@example.com) before the deadline, along with a 100 – 200 word description of your research behind the image.
The submission deadline is 9 January 2019 at 5pm. Late entries will not be accepted.
Staff, students and the general public will then be able to vote for their favourite image. The competition winners will be presented with a prize by Professor John Fletcher in the Atrium Art Gallery, in March 2019. All photographs will be presented in the Atrium Art Gallery for two weeks in March so you’ll get a chance to see all the entries.
#TalkBU is a monthly lunchtime seminar on Talbot Campus, open to all students and staff at Bournemouth University and free to attend. Come along to learn, discuss and engage in a 20-30 minute presentation by an academic or guest speaker talking about their research and findings, with a Q&A to finish.
Reports of disability hate crime are on the increase. Research has found that changes to the incapacity benefits following the economic crash have been a contributing factor. Disabled people are now commonly perceived and framed as fraudulent ‘scroungers’ and ‘skivers’ and victimised as a result. Victims of hate crimes describe the inadequate, offensive and inappropriate responses from the criminal justice system that have created a sense of secondary victimisation. The impact of this on disabled communities is extensive, including moving home, acceptance of hate crime as a part of life, and more. So, what can be done?
In this talk, Dr Jane Healy, will be discussing hate crime experienced by people with disabilites. We will also be joined by the Mental Health Zone who will be discussing how to report hate crime at university.
Over 35m people worldwide now use e-cigarettes, according to one estimate. In the US, this includes 4.5% of the adult population. But the rise in vaping has led to a trade in fake e-liquids – the mix of water, glycerol, propylene glycol, flavours and (usually) nicotine used to create the vapour of e-cigarettes.
Fake e-liquids are those that contain ingredients or incorrect concentrations of them that do not match those on the label. In particular, fakes often contain less or more nicotine than their labels claim, or impurities such as other drugs. The problem is that there is no current way to be sure exactly what is in an e-liquid, and no official certification scheme to guarantee that a label claim is accurate.
However, my colleagues and I are working on a way to use handheld scanning technology to spot fake e-liquids. This system could help to catch fraudsters because it does not just prove an e-liquid does not match its labelling but also provides a chemical “fingerprint” that can be linked back to its creators.
The internet has made it much easier for fraudsters to sell fake goods, and e-liquids are no exception. The problem is still new enough that we do not have good data on how common it is, but anecdotal evidence suggests many vapers are aware of the issue.
Nicotine e-liquids typically contain concentrations of between 0.1% and 2% of the drug, depending on the strength the vaper prefers. Current EU law means higher concentrations of nicotine than this are illegal. And manufacturers are required to declare any ingredient that accounts for more than 0.1% of its content.
Buying a fake e-liquid is not just annoying, it is potentially dangerous. It is rare for someone to consume so much nicotine that it becomes toxic, but it can happen. High doses of nicotine can result in unwanted stimulant effects such as hypertension (high blood pressure), tachycardia (unusually high heart rate), tremors and even seizures. Impurities in nicotine can also affect the body but this is difficult to predict and depends on what the impurity is and its concentration.
Having a portable technology that can authenticate products would help law enforcement officers identify fake e-liquids, catch the criminals supplying them and so prevent the health problems they cause. So we have tailored portable scanning technology already used to detect other counterfeit products including medicine and food, by creating a library of chemical signatures for e-liquids and the software to compare them to the scan results.
The technology works by firing near-infrared light at a sample. Different ingredients will reflect or absorb the light by different amounts. So measuring this reflection gives a spectrum that acts like a fingerprint, which we can use to identify the liquid’s physical and chemical properties. Our algorithms can then interpret this fingerprint and compare it to our library of other spectra to assess how likely it is that the liquid contains what the label says it does.
Using this kind of portable spectroscopic technology saves on the cost, labour and time of taking a sample into the laboratory, preparing and measuring it and then processing the data. Instead, our system can scan a sample and tell users how close a match it is to entries from the library – and so how much nicotine and other ingredients it contains – without the need for them to have specialist training. Collecting a signature takes a few seconds and the results are ready within a couple of minutes. The equipment is also stable in hot and cold climates and can be used in the field for long periods of time.
As portable versions of these instruments are already available for detecting fake drugs and tobacco, it would be easy to adapt them for law enforcement agents. All you need to do is develop the right library of chemical signatures to detect a variety of fake e-liquids, as we have started doing. Then the police can start cracking down on this potentially dangerous trade.
Until this year, only 19 women had won a Nobel Prize for science – just 3% of the total winners. But the Nobel Committee’s decision to recognise Donna Strickland and Frances Arnold, respectively, with the 2018 chemistry and physics prizes, suggests this imbalance is finally being addressed.
The Nobel recognises outstanding contributions to humankind, so it should go without saying that the outstanding women working in the fields of science and medicine should be recognised for their contributions. And there are many who deserve to be seen through awards and media representations. But perhaps more importantly, the image we see of women in science from things like the Nobel Prizes can make a difference to what happens within the field.
Women laureates are grossly underrepresented in all of the Nobel Prize categories, especially when you consider their participation in these areas today. Globally, women still represent less than a third of the science workforce, but that’s far more than the 3% recognised by the Nobels.
Even in the last few years, as more women have entered scientific fields, they have been notably absent among Nobel prize winners. The last woman to win the chemistry prize was Ada Yonath in 2009. And before Donna Strickland there hadn’t been a female physics laureate since Maria Goeppert Mayer in 1963. The Nobel Committee has said it is taking steps to improve its record on women but that it would likely be five to ten years before we see a significant change in distribution.
The reality is that women are still under- and misrepresented in almost every facet of science. The numbers start with a lower proportion of female science students at secondary level and gradually decline at every stage of education and leadership. For example, women are underrepresented as first authors of scientific research papers and their papers are much less likely to be cited by others. By the time it gets to candidates for the Nobel Prize, there are very few women left to choose from.
You can add to that the persistence of outdated ideas around gender differences within science. Just recently, a CERN professor was suspended for sexist comments linked to debunked science made to a room full of women scientists. In many ways, it made Strickland’s winning of the physics Nobel all the more sweet but demonstrates the lingering mischaracterisation of women in science both inside and outside of the profession.
With all this mind, it’s important to remember that media representation matters. It gives women and girls opportunities to literally see themselves, in this case, as scientists. We knowfrom research that female role models can make a difference to women’s decisions about whether or not to start a scientific career. And more generally, media representations help us to understand ourselves and others. So, if images of successful women are missing from the picture girls and women have of science through the media, it can limit the extent to which they will see themselves as scientists.
We need to normalise the representation of all women in science. More women winning the Nobel Prize, and more news articles celebrating those women’s achievements, are just the start. Changing how women scientists are seen can also be achieved through film and television representations, news articles, Wikipedia entries and so on.
Globally, for example, women made up only 19% of experts appearing in television, radio and print news reports. When women scientists are made less visible in this way, they are, in the words of feminist thinker Gaye Tuchman, “symbolically annihilated”. In other words, they are effectively omitted, trivialised and condemned by the mass media.
While there are many examples of women scientists in film and television, they’re now starting to appear more often as lead characters rather than as sidekicks to men – for example, Sandra Bullock’s Ryan Stone in Gravity. Recent films such as Hidden Figures and the reboot of Ghostbusters have made the female leads’ role as scientists a key focus and driver of the storylines. This kind of change is important for moving women scientists from, as feminist critic bell hooks puts it, the “margins to the centre”.
Even the number and content of Wikipedia entries about women scientists is important, as the crowd-edited encyclopedia helps document what society values and exposes people to cultural heritage. But research shows that Wikipedia has a poor record on gender equality in terms of including women’s biographies.
This was highlighted when it emerged that, before her Nobel win, Strickland’s contributions to science had been deemed not significant enough to warrant her own Wikipedia page. Such examples underline the importance of efforts like those of Jessica Wade to increase the number of Wikipedia entries about women scientists’ contributions.
Changing all these media representations together can help more people to see women as scientists and to value the contributions that they make. This will empower women scientists today and inspire more girls to join the next generation. Perhaps then, a Nobel Prize winner being female won’t be such big news and the focus will be on their science rather than their gender.
The scale and importance of international students to the UK higher education sector is now well established. Yet we know very little about how students from non-UK countries experience and interact with the heavy drinking culture that predominates on and near many universities.
We’ve conducted new research to reveal the perceptions of British drinking cultures held by international students studying on postgraduate courses at a UK university. In focus groups and interviews, students from countries including Nigeria, the US, China, Turkey, Poland, Germany and Greece told us of their experiences of drinking culture at university.
The British ‘like to drink’
The British Council, and many city and university marketing teams, often promote the British pub as a safe and friendly leisure space in their bid to market studying in the UK to international students. The students we spoke to were aware of the iconic image of the British pub. They spoke of their desire to participate in what they saw as being an important part of British culture. Others spoke with excitement of being able to try British real ale and craft beer as a part of their experience of living and studying in Britain.
Having seen depictions of British pubs in television, film and, increasingly, social media, most international students were aware of alcohol consumption being important to British culture before they came to the UK. This prior perception was confirmed by their initial experiences on arrival. Our interviewees felt that getting drunk was an important part of British cultural life and reported being initially surprised that drinking to excess was an expected part of university life.
Despite these concerns, drinking alcohol was an important part of the social lives of many international students. Many had enjoyed their experiences of socialising in bars and pubs. For others, whose degree programme cohorts were predominantly fellow international students, the pub was a space in which they could view and interact with British culture and British people – such as non-student locals.
Drinking cultures in contrast
International students made ready comparisons with the drinking habits and attitudes of their own cultures. Many told us about how people drink alcohol and get drunk in their own cultures. But they contrasted this with the tendency of “going too far” and of “not knowing when to stop” that was perceived to be a major characteristic of British drinking culture.
That said, many interviewees had enjoyed learning about the practice of buying “rounds” of drinks, using “cheers” before drinking and the lack of table service in Britain. They saw this as a fun and a pleasurable part of getting to know local culture.
As identified in other research, gender is an important feature of how students view drinking and drunkenness. Concern was expressed in our study about a perceived lack of control among some British women when drinking alcohol. Words such as embarrassment and shame were used by both male and female interviewees to define the boundary between fun, sociable drinking and excessive drunkenness.
Interviewees expressed surprise that public vomiting and urination or collapsing in the street were so widely tolerated and even in some cases expected and celebrated by British students.
Finding the balance
Most students felt capable of negotiating their involvement with student drinking culture by choosing times, spaces and styles of drinking that suited their own tastes. This involved a clear preference for drinking as part of other events such as eating a meal out with friends or watching televised sport in pubs. At social events where heavy drinking was the main activity, some would try to enjoy “one or two” drinks but leave once other people became noticeably drunk.
But while many students spoke of the pub as a welcoming and relaxed space for socialising with friends, bars and nightclubs were said to be intimidating places where they felt at risk of violence or harassment. Many students witnessed fights.
Female international students had particular concerns – several spoke of their strategies to stay safe when out at night. The avoidance of the streets at night due to a fear of potential violence or aggression was also highlighted in a previous study that looked at levels of racism experienced by international students.
The new European Union Copyright Directive, passed recently by the European parliament after a vociferous campaign both for and against, has been described by its advocates as Europe striking a blow against US tech giants in the battle for control of copyrighted content online. This is painted as a battle about who pays for creative works, culture, and the role and workings of a free press in a world where these “commodities” are exchanged freely on social media and other platforms controlled by giants such as Google and Facebook.
The sense of this battle is found in two articles from the text of the new directive. Article 11 introduces the “press publishers’ right”, also called the “link tax”. This permits publishing groups such as newspapers and other media to charge online content sharing service providers and platforms – most obviously, Google, Facebook and Twitter – a fee for a licence to link to their content. Article 13 makes online content sharing service providers responsible for the copyright content uploaded by users. Large platforms must implement filters to monitor copyright infringements and obtain licences from music, film and television rights-holders for the use of copyright content where it appears on their services – YouTube and Instagram, for example. This has led to claims that the directive would effectively ban memes, because automated checking of uploads would identify them only as copyright material, rather than allowable “fair use” or “parody”.
Unsurprisingly, publishers and copyright industries across Europe have saluted the new law as a great victory of European culture and free press against the greedy American titans. But it is not this simple.
When companies like Google and Facebook started their ascent as global players in the mid-2000s, they benefited from a generally favourable legislative framework, made of legislative vacuum and liberal legislation. Thanks to the flexible contours of the “safe harbour” provisions for internet hosting services – which essentially immunises them from any liability for content uploaded by their users – YouTube rapidly became the main channel of distribution of music. Similarly, Facebook and Google News became major distributors of news (whether good, bad or “fake”).
The ascent of these companies was not without hurdles and challenges, including a chequered history of lawsuits from music, film and television companies against content-sharing platforms, and by press publishers against news aggregators, which eventually changed the legal contours of the hosting providers’ safe harbour in the European Union. As a result of these legal disputes, the tech firms have progressively adapted their business models from head-on challenge of copyright norms to adopting a more accommodating attitude towards copyright holders and press publishers.
So in this respect, what the new EU Copyright Directive now obliges the tech giants to do is largely what they do already. To be sure, it is an open question whether they pay enough for the privilege of making use of (and profiting from) all that content created by others. Admittedly, by obliging tech giants to pay press publishers and to obtain licences with copyright holders, the new directive may reduce their bargaining power with respect to the arrangements they must make with content creators, and therefore lead the copyright holders to increase their revenue share. This small (and largely uncertain) effect has some important consequences.
Take the directive’s article 13, which redefines the safe harbour for content-sharing providers. In effect, platforms like YouTube will be directly responsible for copyright content uploaded by their users (although they will continue to be shielded from direct liability for other wrongs committed by their users, such as defamation or hate speech). If this norm was in place ten or 15 years ago it would have prevented YouTube from becoming what it is today.
But now it is only good news for YouTube. The new directive will have little effect on its current business model (perhaps paying only a little more for contracts with copyright owners), but it will prevent others from challenging established firms’ dominant positions. Costs that for platforms like YouTube or Instagram today represent a small and ultimately insignificant portion of their profits are huge and potentially insurmountable barriers for new companies attempting to enter the market.
Only micro or small enterprises and non-commercial platforms – which are excluded from the effects of article 13 – will benefit from the same favourable legislative conditions that Facebook and Google experienced at the beginning of their career. But even these, as soon as they become more than start-ups, will have to operate in the same playing field as established giants – leaving them with no serious prospect of winning a substantial market share, challenging their dominance, or providing an outlet for innovation.
Quite the opposite from what was the intention, the Copyright Directive may ensure the current crop of tech giants retain their dominant position for a long time, possibly forever. Which one could say is not exactly bad news for them, and not exactly a victory for European creativity either.
We are all too familiar with images of flooding in low lying areas after heavy rainfall or houses destroyed by coastal erosion after a storm. For an increasing number of people, coastal flooding and erosion is a real threat to property, the local economy and, in some cases, life. Hurricane Florence, for example, is forcing more than a million people on the US East Coast to flee from their homes.
Coasts support important industries (such as ports and tourism) and their populations are growing faster than inland areas. But coastal areas are also particularly sensitive to impacts of climate change, which are likely to increase the extent, intensity and frequency of coastal flooding and erosion.
Traditional hard engineering approaches of coastal protection (such as groynes, revetments and seawalls) are known to cause detrimental effects, which in the longer term can aggravate the problem they were supposed to solve. The impact of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans was a stark reminder that engineering structures are not effective against all events at all times. They are built based on trade-offs between the level of protection needed and the costs of construction and maintenance.
Soft engineering, such as beach nourishment (where sediment, usually sand, is added to the shore), can offer a level of protection and beach amenity – but these reduce through time, as erosion continues. Meanwhile, “protection” gives a false sense of safety and enables occupation of risk areas, increasing the number of people and assets in risk areas.
A serious conundrum
Climate change has forced a paradigm shift in the way coastal flooding and erosion risks are managed. In areas of lower risk, adaptation plans are being devised, often with provisions to make properties and infrastructure more resilient. Adaptation may involve requiring raised foundations in flood-prone areas or the installation of mitigating measures, such as sustainable drainage systems. Building codes may also be established to make structures more disaster-proof and to control the types of constructions within risk zones.
But such adaptation options are often of limited use or unsuitable for high-risk areas. In such areas relocation is the only safe climate-proof response.
Planning for relocation is problematic. There are large uncertainties concerning the predictions of climate change impacts – and this makes planning a difficult task. Uncertainty is not an easy concept to incorporate in planning and coastal management. In some places, effects of sea level rise are already evident, but it’s still difficult to be sure how fast and how much it will rise.
Similarly, there is still great uncertainty about when and where the next “super storm” will happen and how intense it will be. Inevitably, areas that have already been affected by flooding or erosion will be affected again – the question is when and how badly.
Despite these issues, relocation is increasingly being adopted as a strategy. There have been some successes at the local level. One such example is the Twin Streams project in Auckland (New Zealand), where relocation (through the purchase of 81 properties) has provided space to create community gardens and cycleways where 800,000 native vegetation plants were planted. This was made possible by engaging over 60,000 volunteer hours.
Although not on the coast, the town of Kiruna in Sweden shows that, when risks are high, forward thinking and long-term planning can make large-scale relocation possible. Kiruna is at risk of ground collapse due to mining. Over a 20-year period, more than 18,000 residents will be relocated to a new city centre 3km away. The layout of the new city centre has been designed to be more sustainable, energy efficient and have better options for cultural activities and socialising. Local residents were engaged and helped identifying 21 heritage buildings they want relocated to the new area.
The French, meanwhile, have instigated the first ever national strategy focused on relocation from high-risk areas. French policy places a duty on local authorities to develop plans by 2020, identifying the areas at serious risk of coastal flooding or erosion, what needs to be relocated and how (including sources of funding). Five pilot areas have been selected to test how the strategy might be implemented at the local level. Two of these areas have contrasting approaches and outcomes.
In Lacanau (a top surfing stop in the Bay of Biscay) coastal erosion threatens the tourism-based economy. Although public opposition was initially high, the development of a local plan has generally been positive, mainly due to the inclusive community involvement in the project. A local committee was created to act as a consultation body and decisions were informed by open discussions based on clear communication of technical, legal, financial and sociological issues.
In Ault (northern France) the experience was less positive. the risk reduction plan identified a high-risk zone within 70 metres of the cliff edge. It was decided that no new construction would be allowed here and restrictions to improvements on the existing 240 houses were imposed. This would force relocation if the properties were damaged by flooding or erosion. In May 2018 a residents group won a court case which considered the plan illegal, lifting the restrictions imposed on renovation of existing properties until a new plan is drafted.
These examples demonstrate that engaging with local communities from the inception of any such project is essential. Unfortunately, people instinctively resist change – and relocation is a complete shift from the centuries-old approach of fixing coastlines and fighting against coastal dynamics. Our current legal and management frameworks are too geared up for maintaining the status quo. Funding and legal aid to support purchase of properties and removal of infrastructure that are not imminently deemed inhabitable are limited.
But open and inclusive debate about the need for relocation and the consequences and benefits of it can change people’s perceptions. The “Nimby” (not in my backyard) attitude is strong in coastal communities, but can subside after personal experiences of severe flooding or erosion. The environment around us is changing and we cannot continue living the way we did in the past.
Prevention is always less costly and more effective than remediation, particularly when involving people’s safety. The earlier we accept the need to change, the less damaged is the legacy we leave to the next generations.
Glimpses of hope are visible on the Korean Peninsula for the first time in years. North Korea and the US have held some of their most important denuclearisation talks to date, and the Pyongyang leadership has embarked on what looks like a serious peace process with Seoul. The sight of a smiling Kim Jong-un holding hands with the South Korean president, Moon Jae-in and Donald Trump showed a different side to the North Korean supreme leader, suggesting he does in fact want to see progress towards a happier, more open era.
But while the world’s media focuses on the bravado over denuclearisation, the dire human rights situation inside the regime is being overlooked. Even during the talks, both Moon and Trump avoided directly raising such issues with Kim, eager as they were to achieve their own key objectives. It was galling to hear so little about the lives of ordinary North Koreans – and in particular women.
Many of North Korea’s women suffer daily abuse and injustice, and behind the international politics, there’s no sign that the situation is improving. In my own interviews with both male and female defectors, I heard about the day-to-day inequality, and also the violations of basic rights that women inside North Korea face as a matter of routine.
Trouble at home
North Koreans live in a paradoxical, confused system of gender relations. While Marxist Communism has been the fundamental organising principle of life in the north, Confucian patriarchy has shaped society, too, forming the backbone of North Korean society. Much as happened in post-revolutionary China, the superficial promulgation of equality belies the marked gender segregation of everyday life.
Some interviewees talked about their ordeals in the face of domestic violence. One participant expressed the anger and frustration she felt, as well as her relief when her husband died after more than 20 years abusing her. According to her, there is no redress for North Korean women who are subject to ongoing violence within the household, which is often seen as legitimate treatment.
When the famine began in the early 1990s, it was the women who took responsibility for family survival, going out to sell products and exchange goods. Another participant described how North Korean women often call men in the household “guard dogs” – tough figureheads who stay at home making no particular contribution.
Feeding starving families is largely left to women outside the formal workforce, who are subjected to less government control. These women are left to slip through the official system and get involved in black market trade or informal markets known as “Jangmadang”. Worse, some husbands take the goods their wives buy to exchange them for alcohol, or demand that their exhausted wives bring them alcohol even if their family has nothing to eat. If they do not, they are punished with abuse.
Isolated and shamed
Sexual violence is also a common problem inside the army. Being able to join the Worker’s Party of Korea is an essential pathway to a secure, successful life in North Korea, and a major reason for women to join the army is to become a member of the party. Senior male officials frequently exploit this as a means to manipulate and harass young women, threatening to block their chances of joining the party if they refuse or attempt to report the abuse. Out of fear, most women suffer in silence.
Female hygiene also remains a serious issue. Female soldiers are not given the chance to wash or change during training outside; my interviewees talked about women in the army being given wound dressings to use instead of sanitary towels. Things are even worse for ordinary female citizens, who have to make do with any materials available, such as off-cuts from men’s used vests or socks.
If they get pregnant unintentionally, women get the blame. Thus, many pregnant women use a range of dangerous methods to abort: tightening their stomach with an army belt to hide their growing pregnancy, taking anthelmintic medicine (antiparasitic drugs designed to remove parasitic worms from the body), or jumping off and rolling down the high mountain hills. Unsurprisingly, it’s common to find foetuses in army facilities’ toilets.
The gender divide in North Korea is so deeply ingrained – this is a society that has no term for sexual harassment – that women often blame each other rather than men for not behaving appropriately in these situations.
These stories all paint a distressing picture. It seems North Korea’s women are still trapped not only in systemic poverty, but in a deep-seated structure of gender inequality. Hence, we should not forget about the suffering of ordinary women inside the DPRK, hidden behind the glaring headlines of sweet smiles and big hugs between leaders. Denuclearisation is a step forward, but progress on human rights is the leap that’s needed most.
Harassed on fieldtrips. Excluded from projects. On the receiving end of micro-aggressions. A lack of female role models.
These are some of our collective experiences as women working in science and engineering.
Such experiences erode research opportunities and career progression, leading to the loss of many brilliant women from our disciplinary field – along similar lines as we’ve recently seen exposed in Australian federal parliament.
Today we published a global snapshot of the status of women in coastal science and engineering. The results show that gender inequity is still a major problem in the daily work lives of women globally.
And since gender inequalities in science won’t self-correct, we’ve developed some solutions based on our findings.
Working at the water’s edge
We work in coastal geoscience and engineering, a broad discipline focused on physical processes at the interface of land and sea. Here’s one of our experiences:
For twenty years people had been telling me how lucky I was to be in our field of research because “things” were changing for young women.
This didn’t resonate with my experiences. Twenty years later “things” had not changed and I was no longer a young woman. I started talking to other women and found that they had faced similar challenges, and wanted to see change. – Ana Vila-Concejo
To catalyse change, we founded the Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering (WICGE) network in 2016. Our first project was a study to understand the main issues faced by women who work in our field.
We surveyed 314 members of the coastal science and engineering community and analysed the gender representation in 9 societies, 25 journals, and 10 conferences.
We found that while women represent 30% of the international coastal science community, they are consistently underrepresented in leadership positions (such as being on journal editorial boards and as conference organisers). This situation was clearly acknowledged by the coastal sciences community, with 82% of females and 79% of males believing that there are not enough female role models.
Female representation in prestige roles was the highest (reaching the expected 30%) only when there was a clear entry pathway that gave women an opportunity to volunteer for a role.
Female representation was the lowest for the traditional “invite-only” prestige roles.
A significantly larger proportion of females felt held back in their careers due to gender than their male counterparts (46% of females in comparison to 9% of males).
Reasons for this include:
a “glass ceiling” of informal workplace cultures and customs that reduce womens’ chances of promotion
gender stereotyping of women not being competent in STEM disciplines
a “boys’ club” tendency to favour men in recruitment and collaboration, and
widely held assumptions that a woman’s job performance will be impacted by her having children (the “maternal wall”).
Fieldwork emerged as a key area of inequity, with female respondents being excluded or outright banned from research ships. For those respondents who made it to the field, many of them reported experiencing gender stereotyping and/or sexual harassment.
We used our survey to ask some forthright, open-ended questions about peoples’ experiences and observations of gender equality.
As a study author, the day I went over the responses was one that I will never forget. Stories of bullying, abortion and sexual harassment had me in tears at my desk. Inequality was consistent, pervasive and, in many cases, traumatic. – Sarah Hamylton.
So, what can be done?
Seven steps toward improving gender equity
Gender imbalances in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) are not a self-correcting phenomenon – so here are some ways to make science more inclusive for women.
Advocate for more women in prestige roles: Ensure fair representation of women as keynote speakers at conferences, on society boards and journal editorial boards. Have clear pathways to prestige roles giving women an opportunity to apply if they wish to do so.
Promote high-achieving females: Recognise the achievements of females, and select them for roles that increase their visibility as role models.
Be aware of gender bias: Consciously reflect on personal biases when hiring, promoting and mentoring staff.
Speak up, call it out: Point out to conference organisers all-male panels and keynote programs and, where they are underrepresented, write to chief editors suggesting women for editorial boards.
Provide better support for returning to work after maternity leave: Higher levels of support and more flexible conditions for women returning from maternity leave encourage women to stay in their employment after having children, thereby increasing their prospects of reaching more senior posts.
Redefine success: Recognise the diverse range of definitions of what it means to be a successful researcher.
Encourage women to enter the discipline at a young age: Many school-age girls are put off the idea of entering STEM disciplines as they are socially and culturally deemed to be “male” pursuits. This needs to be addressed.
The Women in Coastal Geoscience and Engineering network is already successfully implementing some of these steps.
By choosing to ignore inequity for women, you become accountable for allowing it to continue. Speak up, promote the work of your female colleagues and give them voice and visibility.
This problem transcends STEM disciplines. It is crucial that the wider community becomes aware of the extent of inequity so that, where necessary, everyone can take action to improve the governance and culture of their work place.
I hope you have enjoyed discovering more about the exciting and diverse research that has been undertaken at Bournemouth University (BU) over the last twenty five years. For me, the thread that runs through each of these research journeys is working with and making a difference to the world outside academia. From influencing midwifery practice, to helping the police and security forces make us safer, to working with governments around the world to improve their response to natural disasters, researchers at BU have long been exploring ways for their research to benefit others.
At the core of all our work at Bournemouth University is our aim to bring together research, education and professional practice in a model we call ‘Fusion’. This blend of elements helps us to ensure that our research makes a difference to professional practice and informs our teaching. Working with industry enables us to shape research that helps to tackle some of the pressing issues facing our society, while also ensuring that we produce graduates who have the skills they need to succeed in their chosen careers.
Looking to the future, as we launch our BU2025 strategic plan, we intend to build on our Fusion approach making Bournemouth University a place that inspires learning, advances knowledge and enriches society. As part of this, we are investing in two new gateway buildings in Bournemouth and Poole. These will equip us with state-of-the-art learning and research facilities, including high-quality media production studios which will enable us to build on our already outstanding international reputation for animation and media production, as well as providing a new home for health and social sciences.
We will also be responding to the ambitions set out in the Government’s Industrial Strategy through developing our existing research strengths in health and medicine, animation, sustainability and low carbon technology as well as assistive technology. Research will play a significant part in helping the UK to rise to societal challenges, such as an ageing population, the need for the development of clean energy and use of technology in driving economic growth. By building on our existing areas of research expertise, producing outstanding graduates and working with industry, Bournemouth University will help to ensure that the UK is well equipped to succeed in the future.
I am proud of the work of Bournemouth University’s researchers, students and professional support staff over the last twenty-five years and I look forward to seeing the difference that we make to the world around us in the coming years.
This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.
Professor John Vinney
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