Posts By / Rachel Bowen

Wafer-thin bicycles, speedy shorts, go-faster trainers: controversial technology in sport

When the Kenyan runner Eliud Kipchoge became the first human to run a marathon in under two hours as part of the recent INEOS 1:59 Project Challenge, this was arguably one of the most significant achievements of athleticism since Sir Roger Bannister broke the four-minute mile in 1954. But almost immediately afterwards there was controversy, not toward the runner or the unofficial nature of his run (his record has no official status), but over his running shoes.

The trainers in question were the AlphaFLY running shoes designed and manufactured by Nike. They are built around a carefully considered sole design that absorbs the energy of each foot strike and then helps store, channel and return it as the athlete runs. Its various patented innovations include the types of polymers used and how they and air pockets are located to absorb and return energy, coupled with a carbon plate built into the midsole. The question is, can a running shoe really be they key to sporting success? Or is it just an easy target for others’ misplaced jealousy?

A study published back in 2005 predicted the probable limits of the men’s marathon record. Yet since then the maximum projections in that study have already been exceeded by around two minutes, and nearly by four if you include Kipchoge’s time. On that basis it seems fair to suggest that the shoes are at least partly responsible for such large and unexpected performance improvements. The International Association of Athletics Federations, the governing body, has established a group to study the Nike’s running shoes and report back with an adjudication.

A more recent study examining shoe technology supports this concern, suggesting that a predecessor to the Alphafly shoe design had been shown to improve running economy significantly. In fact, compared directly to other elite-level trainers in the same study, the performance gain was in the range of 2.6%-4.2%. At the razor thin margins of elite sport, that sort of benefit is the equivalent of bringing a gun to a knife fight.

Seeking an edge through technology

To be sure, as far as debating technological assistance in sport goes, we’ve been here plenty of times before. The Australian sprinter Cathy Freeman wore a one-piece aerodynamic suit in the 400 metres at the Sydney 2000 Olympics. In 2008, the very nature of disability itself was challenged when South African Oscar Pistorius attempted to run in both the Paralympic and Olympic Games the same year while using a pair of composite prosthetic legs. These, like Kipchoge’s shoes, also raised concerns about the nature of and extent to which technology contributes toward helping us perform at our very best. In a systemic review published in 2015, I found the impact of technology in sport as having brought a huge source of positive interest, but, on occasion, being hugely damaging.

The British Olympic team recently unveiled its new track cycling bicycle, dubbed HB.T, upon which athletes will be competing at the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. This machine (a project undertaken between British Cycling and manufacturers Hope and Lotus Engineering) pushes the rules to their absolute limits and demonstrates the flair that Lotus themselves applied back in 1992 when they designed Chris Boardman’s gold medal-winning Lotus bicycle. But this design was itself later banned from competition due to its perceived unfairness.

The new Team GB bicycle is resplendent with an unusual fork configuration and bowed, thin frame members that virtually disappear from view when you look at it head on. Engineers will be keen to know the measured advantages. But I’m wondering whether the real effects of the bike are in the psychological blow to its opposition as it is wheeled out for the first time – at a point probably and quite intentionally too late for competing cycling teams’ to respond to in time for Tokyo.

The general criticism behind such new technology is not just about how effective it may or may not be but also about its perceived fairness. Such arguments typically debate issues surrounding equal access to a technology, the ability to ensure any new technology is safe, that it is not fundamentally an unfair advantage, and that it doesn’t ultimately change the nature of the sport entirely.

Some sports governing bodies attempt to remove or marginalise the impact of technology. Cycling has tried several times to do so. However, even the relative simplicity of a sport such as running was changed forever when Kipchoge used a huge team of around 40 pace-setters in an aerodynamic formation and those shoes.

Technological progress can be slowed, but it can’t easily be halted – and arguably shouldn’t be. So there will be much more debate on the effects of technology ahead of the Tokyo 2020 Games as more athletes, teams and manufacturers all compete for the most prized medals in competitive sport.The Conversation

Bryce Dyer, Principal Academic, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

BU researcher explores how people who have had a stroke can be supported to return to work

The 8th edition of BU’s annual research magazine – the Bournemouth Research Chronicle – has now been published.  This year’s edition focuses on the work of our Early Career Researchers (ECRs). Read on to find out more about research being undertaken in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences.

At least 100,000 people in the UK have a stroke each year and around a third of them are of working age. In 1990 only a quarter of strokes were experienced by people aged between 20-64 years old, meaning that the average age of stroke victims is falling. BU’s Dr Kathryn Collins, a Lecturer in Physiotherapy, noticed this trend emerging while working as a physiotherapist in Chicago and while undertaking her PhD at the University of East Anglia.

“My PhD explored neural plasticity, and the corticospinal tract which connects our brain to different muscle groups. I was really interested in the way our brains can change: whether from learning a new skill or from being damaged through a stroke,” explains Dr Collins, “For example, in someone who has had a stroke, we might see an undamaged area of the brain developing differently in order to compensate for an area that has been damaged.

“Through both my practice and my research, I noticed that my patients were becoming much younger. Not only were this group trying to recover from their strokes, they were also trying to get back to work. Working gave them a purpose as well as enabling them to provide for themselves and their families.”

There are a number of reasons why people are at risk of having a stroke at a younger age. Some may be more susceptible to blood clotting because of a pre-existing condition, such as sickle cell anaemia, while others may be at risk because of certain lifestyle factors. These could include stress, poor diet or lack of physical activity.

Now at Bournemouth University, Dr Collins has been continuing her research into the facilitators and barriers to returning to work. Her research was funded by BU’s Acceleration of Research & Networking (ACORN) grant scheme, which provides promising Early Career Researchers with the opportunity to lead and manage their own research project.

“The funding enabled me to carry out a systematic review with two of our physiotherapy students. It was a really good opportunity for them to get involved in research and for them to broaden their skills. Through this review, we have been exploring hidden impairments which were seen as a significant barrier to returning work.”

Dr Collins also worked with BU’s Public Involvement in Education and Research (PIER) Partnership to run a number of focus groups with stroke survivors. The PIER Partnership put her in touch with the local Stroke Association, who were keen to be involved. Through these focus groups Dr Collins was able to identify a number of barriers and facilitators to returning to work.

“Peer support was big factor in helping people back to work, as it gave stroke survivors the opportunity to learn from someone else who had been in the same position,” says Dr Collins. “Learning to listen to their bodies was also important. If they felt fatigued, for example, then they needed to learn that it was OK to take a break and rest.

“Workplace support made a big difference too. Being offered a phased return to work, having a flexible working pattern or having adjustments to help them carry out tasks they now found difficult were all examples of the kinds of support people found beneficial.”

In addition to this, training, longer rehabilitation, family support and returning to or learning new hobbies were seen as facilitators to help people return to work. The latter often helped to increase confidence which would then spill over into other areas of life“One of the biggest barriers to returning to work were hidden impairments, such as emotions. People experience a huge range of emotions after a stroke; anxiety about having another stroke, frustration at not being able to do things they could do before or guilt that they were no longer able to support their families in the same way. These emotions could then lead to changes in their behaviour or their personalities,” explains Dr Collins.

“Fatigue was also a significant barrier. Some people had returned to work, only to have to give it up altogether shortly afterwards as they hadn’t realised how fatigued they would be. In addition to this, some stroke survivors might face physical barriers such as finding it difficult to drive, climb stairs or get out of their chair easily.”

Changes in cognition were also recognised as a barrier. Some stroke survivors reported no longer being able to process information in the same way, finding that they felt overwhelmed or were facing ‘information overload’ if faced with too much to process at once.

“The final set of barriers centred on perceptions; both of their employers and colleagues. Some people found that there was a lack of understanding about the effects of a stroke, which meant they didn’t have the right support at work. It was felt that employers were better at making adaptations for people with visible, physical disabilities, but less so for people who might have hidden impairments.”

As the project draws to a close, Dr Collins is now considering what her next steps will be and how she can ensure that her research findings can make a difference to stroke survivors.

“I’d like to broaden my research to speak to more stroke survivors to make sure that I’ve correctly identified all the barriers and facilitators to returning to work. I’d also like to speak to employers to find out what their perceptions are,” says Dr Collins. “Ultimately, I want to be able to use my research findings to inform the support that physiotherapists and other health professionals provide to stroke survivors. My goal is to make sure that we’re providing the right kind of support and interventions to enable stroke survivors to get the most out of their lives.”

To find out more about the research of BU’s Early Career Researchers, visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/brc.

If you would like a printed copy of the magazine, please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Understanding and improving media literacy among unaccompanied refugee youth

The 8th edition of BU’s annual research magazine – the Bournemouth Research Chronicle – has now been published.  This year’s edition focuses on the work of our Early Career Researchers (ECRs). Read on to find out more about research being undertaken in the Faculty of Management.

In 2018, according to UNICEF, European countries recorded the arrival of 602,920 new asylum seekers, a figure which includes 20,325 unaccompanied child refugees. The successful integration of refugee children poses a number of policy and practical challenges for both the child and host country. Research carried out at Bournemouth University suggests that providing children with media literacy education can help them learn to navigate their new media-centric environments and make decisions which protect their wellbeing.

While many refugee children have good IT skills, they often lack the skills needed to make critical choices and informed decisions about their wellbeing. Media literacy education can go some way to combat this. It can also help to provide them with the skills that will help them to find employment later in life, as well as protecting them from risks, such as identity theft or radicalisation.

In 2015, at the start of Europe’s migrant crisis, Dr Annamaria Neag was finishing her PhD research into media literacy education. Budapest’s Keleti Railway Station had become a de facto refugee camp, and among the chaos and squalor of the crowds Dr Neag noticed the importance of smart phones to people in this desperate situation.

“Their phones were their guide through Europe, their connection to home and their tool for building new relationships and a new life,” explains Dr Neag. “This was what sparked my idea to combine my research into media literacy with refugee studies.”

To bring this idea to fruition, Dr Neag teamed up with Bournemouth University’s Dr Richard Berger, to pursue funding for her research idea. Using the assistance of BU’s Research Development & Support team, Dr Neag and Dr Berger submitted a successful proposal for the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation programme funding. As a result of this funding, Dr Neag was appointed as a Marie-Curie Fellow at Bournemouth University’s Centre of Excellence in Media Practice (CEMP), where she began the research that had been inspired by her observations at Keleti Railway Station two years’ previously.

The aim of Dr Neag’s research is to provide an in-depth description of unaccompanied refugee children’s media use. This will enable her to design and develop educational tools that will support unaccompanied refugee children to develop their media literacy skills and become more connected to their new home countries.

Fieldwork has been carried out in the Netherlands, Sweden and Italy – the three countries with the highest number of refugee children at the time of grant application. Research consisted of informal semi-structured interviews with unaccompanied asylum seeking children, refugee mentors, participant observation, and digital ethnography (the study of online communities and cultures).

Dr Neag has also undertaken participatory action research in the UK. This was conducted with London based NGO ‘Young Roots’ who provide support and activities for young refugees. Here, data was collected about unaccompanied asylum seeking children’s knowledge of fake news, fake profiles and mental health risks associated with phone addiction.

Her research has found that access to smart phones has great benefits for unaccompanied asylum seeking children who are using their mobiles to check their bank balances, order online goods, or communicate using language translating tools or social media. However, research also shows the associated risks.

Though social media offers a route to meet new people, usage may also restrict someone to a particular community, thus creating an echo chamber of ideas. Additionally, the unintended consequences of exposure to phone addiction, fake news and online community pressures can expose vulnerable children to higher risks.

Dr Neag found that unaccompanied asylum seeking children were using social media applications, such as Facebook, Snapchat or Instagram, which were consistent with young people in their new host countries. However, Dr Neag discovered that these children were also downloading simplified versions of the same applications which worked in their home countries.

“Applications such as ‘imo’ or ‘Facebook Lite’ can be used with in areas with poor internet connections, which is often the case for their relatives living in their home countries,” says Dr Neag, “It was very interesting to see that some children, who were illiterate, were using these apps to communicate by using functions such as voice messages.

“My research also showed that there were similarities in the ways in which young Europeans and unaccompanied asylum seeking children use social media. It showed that there was a shared desire to present a beautified version of their lives on social media. For example, selfies were very popular with refugee children, who often enjoyed sharing photos of themselves in front of landmarks such as the Milan Cathedral.”

Dr Neag believes that educating the mentors and guardians of unaccompanied asylum seeking children may be the most effective way to improve media literacy skills among this large and hugely diverse group. Her findings are now being collated into an app called Mentor+Media which will offer help to refugee mentors and guardians about media literacy. The app development team consists of Dr Neag, Dr Berger and Kyle Goslan, a BU demonstrator in digital media design. NGO experts are also helping to inform the app’s content.

“The purpose of the app is to communicate the importance of being critical of various forms of media,” explains Dr Neag. “This knowledge can then be passed on to unaccompanied asylum seeking children on an individual basis – in a way that suits their needs.”

To find out more about the research of BU’s Early Career Researchers, visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/brc.

If you would like a printed copy of the magazine, please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Reducing re-offending through hospitality training

The 8th edition of BU’s annual research magazine – the Bournemouth Research Chronicle – has now been published.  This year’s edition focuses on the work of our Early Career Researchers (ECRs). Read on to find out more about research being undertaken in the Faculty of Management.

There is a population of around 82,000 prisoners in the UK, according to the Ministry of Justice. Statistics from the Prison Reform Trust suggest that 48% of adult prisoners reoffend within one year after release, with rates rising to 64% for those serving sentences of less than 12 months.

The National Audit Office has estimated that crimes committed by recent offenders costs the economy £9.5 billion to £13 billion per year. However, evidence suggests that those who go into work after leaving prison are less likely to reoffend, but this can be difficult without the right training and support.

The Clink Charity aims to reduce reoffending rates by training prisoners in hospitality skills (predominantly in fine dining restaurants) which they will be able to use in meaningful employment on release. The charity offers prisoners the chance to achieve NVQ qualifications, with the added incentive of a job opportunity and accommodation upon release. They operate five training restaurants in partnership with Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service. Since the Clink Charity initiative was launched in 2009, their programmes have helped to reduce reoffending by 50% among those who have graduated from their schemes.

As part of a team of researchers, BU’s Dr Charalampos Giousmpasoglou has been collaborating with the charity to critically assess the quality of training they provide. As well as being an active researcher in the area of hospitality and human resources management, Dr Giousmpasoglou has over 20 years’ experience as a hotelier in luxury hospitality and fine dining restaurant management.

“Training prisoners is always challenging. The Clink Charity is unique because there is no other fine dining training restaurant in a prison globally. As a concept, it’s very innovative, original and interesting, which is why I wanted to get involved,” says Dr Giousmpasoglou.

“My PhD research focused on people management in a luxury hospitality context, which gave me a better insight into a general manager’s job in luxury hotels. I’ve also explored the ways in which an individual’s cultural identity, occupational and organisational culture can affect their ability to succeed in the sector.

“It is really helpful to be able to use my industry experience in class, as it helps my students to develop a better understanding of the real world. It is also an advantage to be able to present myself as a former colleague to practitioners. Through carrying out research with those working in industry, I have found that even in very high-class establishments, poor management still exists.”

UK Hospitality estimates that around 6 million people are directly or indirectly employed through the hospitality industry, making it the third biggest sector in the UK economy. Although the industry faces challenges in terms of the uncertainty of Brexit and changes from the use of new technologies, it remains a thriving sector of the economy.

“I hope that my research will help to better inform staff selection and increase the standards of management within the sector, so that more staff can be better trained and retained,” explains Dr Giousmpasoglou. “By applying these insights to the challenges being addressed by The Clink Charity, I hope that we will be able to improve job retention and further reduce re-offending by former prisoners.”

The collaboration between Dr Giousmpasoglou’s research team and The Clink Charity began in early 2018, when he attended Hotelympia (a trade show), which included a presentation about the charity’s work. This gave Dr Giousmpasoglou the opportunity to discuss his research idea and potential for a collaboration with the charity’s Chief Executive, Christopher Moore.

Thanks to the Bournemouth University’s Acceleration of Research & Networking (ACORN) grant scheme, Dr Giousmpasoglou was able to carry out a pilot study with The Clink Charity to assess trainee prisoner satisfaction and their reasons for joining the skill building programme.

“The aim of the project was to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the programme and make recommendations regarding the programme curriculum and the participants’ wellbeing,” explains Dr Giousmpasoglou, “We focused on how the training has been implemented and received, rather than the way the restaurants are run.”

Initial results have been very positive, with the research team finding that participants reported increases in self-confidence (91.6%), in their desire to learn (83.3%), their chances of getting a job (80.6%) and their ability to cope with prison (75%).

“We found that participants wanted to take part in the programme because they were keen to usefully occupy their time, challenge themselves and increase their employment opportunities on release. As well as boosting their confidence in a number of ways, our research suggested that it was also changing their future plans. 91.7% of people reported wanting to get a job once they left prison, while 52.8% said they were interested in starting their own business or being self-employed.

“The project was only possible because of the ACORN fund and the support of the Research Development & Support team’s training and seminars. It’s given me an opportunity to test the waters, share knowledge with The Clink Charity and find out if a larger research project would be worthwhile,” concludes Dr Giousmpasoglou.

To find out more about the research of BU’s Early Career Researchers, visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/brc.

If you would like a printed copy of the magazine, please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk.

Understanding gender differences in autism

Dr Rachel Moseley

The 8th edition of BU’s annual research magazine – the Bournemouth Research Chronicle – has now been published.  This year’s edition focuses on the work of our Early Career Researchers (ECRs). Read on to find out more about research being undertaken in the Faculty of Science & Technology.

Autism is a lifelong condition that affects an individual’s ability to communicate and relate to others, and how they experience the world around them. Research in autism covers a wide spectrum of issues, with gender differences currently a dominant point of conversation and investigation.

Numbers of people being diagnosed with autism are very unequal; research from 2017 suggests that boys are diagnosed at a rate three times higher than girls. It is now evident that autism presents quite differently and often more subtly in girls and women. With these findings now being brought to light, more and more women are being diagnosed with autism as adults. This makes it more important to understand why it is so difficult to detect autism in young girls, who are therefore more likely to miss out on support and interventions.

Dr Rachel Moseley is a Senior Lecturer in Psychology in the Faculty of Science & Technology. Her work centres on autism spectrum conditions, and has covered a range of sub-topics, including brain connectivity, cognition and language, and more recently, ageing, mental health, self-injury and suicidality. Female diagnosis of autism has been a strong element within her research, with a major focus on reasons why autism in women is underdiagnosed.

Findings from a study run by Dr Moseley and her colleague, Dr Julie Kirkby, suggest that the tools used for screening autism may play a part in the failure to detect autism in girls and women.

“It is really hard to know why there is such a disparity in diagnosis,” explains Dr Moseley. “It might be that autism does exist more in men, as men are more commonly diagnosed. On the other hand it might be that we just don’t recognise the symptoms in women. One paper I published looked at the screening tools that doctors use to check for red flags, and all of those instruments were designed through research studies with male participants.”

Women tend to be better at hiding their symptoms, something known as camouflaging. The likelihood of picking up ‘red flags’ in individuals who can mask their symptoms, when the screening measures are based upon surface behaviour, is slim and results in much later diagnosis.

“When people have very good cognitive abilities or high intelligence, they often learn to hide their symptoms,” says Dr Moseley, “The diagnostic instruments that we have tend to pick up surface behaviours. When observing autistic people, children or adults, medical professionals are expected to assess what is going on in front of them within the room.”

“Autistic women in particular are good at learning to hide their symptoms, as they are sometimes very good at picking up social rules and interactions. It might be costing them a great deal of mental energy to do this but on the surface you can’t detect that they are struggling.”

The later diagnosis of autism in women relates to two more recent aspects of Dr Moseley’s research into autism; mental health and autism within the ageing population. Due to later diagnosis, women often spend a lot longer not understanding why they behave and feel the way they do, resulting in a vulnerability to poor mental health.

“Very few studies are interested in autistic people as they age,” says Dr Moseley. “I am currently carrying out a study into ageing in autistic women, because women are a minority group in autism research. The majority of the research is based on men and boys. Autistic women are doubly marginalised as they age, because research into autism also nearly always focuses on children.”

Dr Moseley is also currently working on developing a better understanding of self-injury and suicidality in autistic people. This is a crucial goal given the very high rates of suicide in this population, which seem to be highest in autistic women. Dr Moseley’s forthcoming research on ageing in autistic women has indicated that many struggle with the changes in cognition, mental health and social communication associated with mid-life, and that these can make them feel too overwhelmed to carry on.

Between funding from the Department of Psychology and training workshops led by the Research Development & Support team, BU has provided support to Dr Moseley in her work, helping to ensure her research continues to make a positive impact in the wider community.

Her enthusiasm for working with external organisations, such as the National Autistic Society, and for sharing the results of her research with the autistic community has gained very positive feedback. This has highlighted to her the importance of the research she is conducting.

Dr Moseley says “I find it very important to share my work with the autistic community. I give talks at local support groups and I’ve recorded videos for my online participants, among other activities. I have received lots of lovely emails saying ‘this has changed my life’ and ‘I feel a lot better about myself now’. It means the world to me and gives me the encouragement I need to pursue my research.”

To find out more about the research of BU’s Early Career Researchers, visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/brc.

If you would like a printed copy of the magazine, please email research@bournemouth.ac.uk.

For young refugees, a mobile phone can be as important as food and water when arriving in a new country

Between 2015 and 2018, more than 200,000 unaccompanied children claimed asylum in Europe. Many of these young people, now in the EU, have one thing in common: their smart phones.

Digital tools are not only a means to keep in touch with friends and family. They can also become a lifeline for refugees and unaccompanied minors, according to a recent report, becoming as essential as food, water and shelter. But for many of these unaccompanied young children, out-of-date kit, lack of access to digital technologies and expensive mobile broadband packages can all act as barriers to being able to live in a digital environment.

Similarly, levels of literacy, can also significantly hinder technological development. And without structured educational provision, many young refugees can also struggle because of poor IT skills.

As researchers based in the UK and Hungary, we decided we wanted to help. And what began as a chance conversation at a conference in Prague, is now a major research project. The main aim of our two-year-long media literacy project was to understand how unaccompanied young refugees use digital technologies and social media.

We wanted to find out whether these technologies can help to foster successful integration. The fieldwork was carried out in four European countries with a high share of unaccompanied minors among asylum-seekers: Sweden, Italy, the Netherlands and the UK.

EU Calling

Our project involved interviews with 56 refugees, age 14-19, as well as their carers, mentors and educators. We met and observed the young people in their homes and community centres. We also carried out “digital ethnography” –- a type of online “audit” – on Facebook, with some of the children.

We found that young refugees can become easily lost when trying to access the digital world, needing multiple skills and tools to integrate successfully into a highly networked culture. The plethora of service providers, social media platforms and devices can be intimidating at first, but we were astonished at how quickly some of the young people we worked with were able to finds ways to negotiate their new digital circumstances – often after leaving war-torn countries.

A phone can be a lifeline for unaccompanied minors.
Shutterstock/Marian Fil

From using translating apps, to communicate with locals, to downloading music from their own countries, some of these young people learned very rapidly how these tools work. That said, this was not the case for the majority of unaccompanied young people.

And for many, mentors or guardians were often the first point of aid when it came to problems encountered online. Older refugee children who have perhaps been in the new host country for some time – or have more familiarity with digital technologies – were also found to be key in helping new and arriving young people to better understand the digital world.

Digital navigation

We also found that many of the young people did not think too critically about their online experiences. And in an era of “fake news” they may be ushered into making poor judgements on what information to trust, and which opinions to follow. So for this reason we created an app called Media+Mentor specifically for mentors or educators who work with unaccompanied refugee youth.

The idea is that the Media+Mentor app will bring mentors and carers together. The app will also point users to further resources, support and advice on the most common issues unaccompanied minors face online – such as fake news, cyberbullying or hate speech.

From our findings, it’s clear that media literacy education is essential for these young people and their mentors. Indeed, for any teenager in the EU, popular apps and platforms are useful resources for learning new things, finding relevant information or simply as a way to connect with other young people. But as a refugee in a new country it can be hard to know how to access such help.

And these children are not just crossing physical borders, but are shifting into the heightened technological spaces that all EU youth probably take for granted. It has been estimated, for example, that 83% of young people across the EU use their smart phones to access the internet – and generally use fairly up-to-date kit.

So we hope that our research could help to provide young refugee people with the skills needed to stay safe and thrive – not only in the online world, but also in a new country where they are building new lives.The Conversation

Annamaria Neag, Marie Curie Research Fellow, Bournemouth University and Richard Berger, Associate Professor, Head of Research and Professional Practice, Department of Media Production, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation: British people hardly ever thought about the EU before Brexit, now it dominates their lives

The polling agency Ipsos MORI has, for many years, asked people in Britain every month what they think are the most important issues facing the country. In December 2015, only six months before the EU referendum and after nearly three years of anticipating it, just 1% of the sample cited Europe as the most important issue of the day. By April 2019 that figure had jumped to 59%.

If Brexit really is the issue which has riven the British public, dividing it into two irreconcilable blocs, why was it so low down the list of urgent concerns at the end of 2015? And not only then: the percentage of people rating it as a major issue had remained in the single digits for more than a decade.

This data does not support a view of Britain’s relationship with Europe as the cause of a longstanding and deep split within the British people. Instead it points to the referendum and the propaganda around it – before and since – as causing the split. Prior to 2016, although people differed in their views of Europe – sometimes strongly – it was never, for most, the overriding issue which it has become.

Much commentary has suggested that Brexit is a proxy issue, or the spark for an uprising of the “left-behind” against a self-serving elite. While inequality and immigration are important to understanding Brexit, this sort of analysis does not provide us with a full explanation for its current all-consuming primacy. It has been suggested that hostility to immigration has been in sharp decline since 2010, and so the referendum vote was not driven by an onrushing wave of such feeling. Nor can the theory of the Brexit vote as expressing the pain of those “left behind” by globalisation explain the Leave votes that came from people who lead comfortable and secure lives.

So how can we explain the sudden emergence, in all its breadth and fury, of both popular support for Brexit – previously a passion mainly of a europhobic, and sometimes xenophobic, fringe – and opposition to it?

According to British Social Attitudes data, between 1992 and 2015 there was a slow and unsteady growth in euroscepticism. We can attribute this, at least in part, to a background throb of anti-EU propaganda in sections of the British press. But then there was a huge leap in anti-EU feeling. In 2015, only 22% wanted to leave the EU yet, as we know, 52% voted to leave in the referendum held the following year. This inflation of europhobia, which provoked alarm among Remainers, was more or less simultaneous with the rapid installation, noted above, of Brexit as the major national issue.

Socio-political analysis stops short of a full understanding of these two big changes in public opinion. There were no events in the world to which people were responding as they coalesced into opposing camps – except the referendum itself, and the rhetoric which had crystallised around it. Brexit is a major example of a shift which took place almost entirely within what we can call the emotional public sphere, the mood and preoccupations of a national public, which is often heavily shaped by dominant media agendas and messages.

People who had previously felt either indifferent or mildly negative towards the EU were encouraged to feel outrage – first at the alleged drain of UK resources into the EU and the political suffocation it was claimed we were subjected to, then at the “treachery” of those politicians who would seek to thwart the popular vote.

Remainers, for their part, found a new focus for suspicion and negativity towards the culturally unwashed, as some tended to see the bulk of the Leave vote. Told that they were all in irreconcilable conflict with each other, many of the British people believed it and felt it.

However, media effects need psychological underpinning. Media content cannot shape our outlooks unless it speaks to some need already present in us. The referendum invited people to identify with one of two sides, to find a clear home in the bewildering flux of today’s complexities and uncertainties. On both sides, membership of a community of self-confidence and self-righteousness seemed to beckon, an antidote to the widespread sense of precarity and confusion. The Brexit question offered people the increasingly scarce experience of being sure, clear and together with others. In a world where it can be increasingly difficult to feel at home, and to know what we should be doing, this is a powerfully attractive experience – none the less so for being, in this case, illusory.

This regressive surge into tribalistic unity of purpose was led by the Brexiteers. But Remainers have subscribed all-too readily to the melodramatic, self-fulfilling headlines that say Britain has plunged into a civil war.

Of course, the UK’s relationship with the rest of Europe is a real and important issue, but behind all that there is a toxicity at work on both sides of the “Brexit divide”. A small anti-EU minority laid the fuse, but the rest of the public proved highly combustible. Getting to the bottom of how and why Brexit has blown up as it has will be essential to the work of repairing and improving British democracy.The Conversation

Barry Richards, Professor of Political Psychology, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The Conversation: B Corp certification won’t guarantee companies really care for people, planet and profit

svobodavpraci, CC BY-SA

Michael O’Regan, Bournemouth University

Weeks after the collapse of his restaurant group and the loss of 1,000 jobs, celebrity chef Jamie Oliver announced that he was creating an “ethical” B Corporation or “B Corp”, a sort of company certification designed to show its holder gives equal weight to people, planet and profit. While it has loosely the same aim as the “triple bottom line” of the social enterprise model, B Corp certification is available to for-profit companies that apply to B Lab, a non-global profit organisation, and pay for it.

B Lab was founded in 2006 by Stanford University alumni and businessmen Jay Coen Gilbert and Bart Houlahan, and former investment banker and Stanford colleague, Andrew Kassoy. There are now more than 2,900 certified B Corps in more than 60 countries, cutting across industries and sectors. Through extensive lobbying and promotion it has expanded worldwide through new local offices. With the number of B Corps opening under the organisation’s UK arm growing at 14% a year, is this really a new way of doing business?

People, planet and profit

On the face of it, the certification should indicate a company’s environmental performance, employee relationships, diversity, involvement in the local community, and the impact a company’s product or service has on those it serves. This in turn can attract staff and consumers seeking socially responsible businesses, boost an established public company’s stock price, and help investors find companies that balance profit and purpose.

In the B Lab certification process, a businesses must sign a “Declaration of Interdependence”, committing it to using “business as a force for good.” The company must modify its governing bylaws to allow directors to “consider stakeholders besides shareholders in company decision-making”. Companies must also disclose information on “any sensitive practices, fines, and sanctions related to the company or its partners”. Certification is done chiefly over the phone, with around 10% selected for more in-depth review. Companies must re-certify every three years.

While B Corp claims that certification balances the interests of shareholders with the interests of workers, customers, communities and the environment, B Corp standards are not legally enforceable. Neither the board nor the corporation are liable for damages if a company fails to meet them. Even the changes in company bylaws remain secret. A business can fill out the initial B Corp Impact Assessment in a few hours, and complete the certification process in between four and eight weeks, finally paying a certification fee of between US$500 and US$50,000, depending on revenue.

B Corp certification is available to any for-profit business around the globe as long as it’s been operating for at least 12 months. Certification is initially self-assessed, and doesn’t override the profit-driven focus of the company.

A cash-generating machine?

B Lab has raised over US$32m since launch, and receives much of its funding from major foundations and organisations such as Prudential, Deloitte LLP, the Rockefeller Foundation, and even the US Agency for International Development. In 2017 it received about US$6m in certification fees, and US$5.6m in donations. Its board members primarily come from the business sector, with B Lab paying US$6m in salaries and compensation in 2017.

In the face of this highly cash-generative activity, B Lab’s rhetoric (“lead a movement”) fails to spell out compelling reasons for certification. B Lab claims that traditional corporations cannot be socially responsible, because they open themselves to liability for not following shareholders interests. But there is no law that explicitly requires directors of businesses to maximise shareholder revenue to the exclusion of all other corporate objectives. European (EU Directive 2014/95/EU) and UK law already push companies to practice sustainability reporting, and British firms have always had the flexibility to amend their articles of association with shareholder consent to reflect their social responsibilities. Pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk, for example, changed its Articles of Association to state that it “strives to conduct its activities in a financially, environmentally and socially responsible way”.

So while B Lab speaks of seeking to meet the “highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose” it has nevertheless certified companies allegedly involved in tax avoidance, those producing cannabis-related products, for-profit college education companies, corporations working in the prison sector, and those allegedly involved in union busting.

What value does it add?

My research into one of the earliest certified B Corps, CouchSurfing.com, shows how certification can be used to pacify angry consumers and attract investors. Certified companies can simply walk away if they feel being a B Corp no longer suits their profit-making aims or strategy, or if it threatens short-term shareholder profitability. The online marketplace Etsy is one that walked away, while others dropped certification after being bought out by larger companies that had other plans.

There is no directory of former B Corporations that dropped certification or had it removed. The closed nature of a private certifying body that sets and regulates its own standards is problematic, even if well intentioned, and especially so if it seeks to control the process by which certified businesses are held accountable. Certified corporations are as accountable to B Lab as they are to their stakeholders. The lack of full transparency and rigorous vetting in the face of its aggressive expansion indicates that B Lab’s certification should not be seen as a reliable method for certifying corporations to some standard, from the perspective of either the general public, investors or regulators.

Which isn’t to say that the efforts haven’t been worthwhile. B Lab could re-focus and promote new global benchmarks and corporate structures such as low-profit limited liability companies (L3Cs) in the US, or community interest companies (CICs) and multi-stakeholder co‑operatives in the UK. Rather than striving to become a political-economic actor spending millions on creating and marketing a private company certification offering brand building and expensive workshops, B Lab might consider whether its market-driven certification offers solutions to market-produced problems.

Jamie Oliver is largely transparent in his business values and commitment to social responsibility. He would be better to say “goodbye and big love as ever” to B Lab as he did in his goodbye letter to staff, and focus instead on working with co-operatives, worker and community-owned businesses, and other non-profits that are building a new economy now – without the need to buy a certificate.The Conversation

Michael O’Regan, Senior Lecturer in Events & Leisure, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Digital technologies are transforming African businesses, but obstacles remain

Digital technology is being used to improve rice processing in Nigeria.
Shutterstock

Elvira Bolat, Bournemouth University and Nasiru Taura, Bournemouth University

Digital technology has created new opportunities for businesses in sub-Saharan Africa to compete on a more equal footing. However, these businesses have yet to enjoy the full benefits because of a difficult operating environment.

Our recently published book, ‘Digital Entrepreneurship in Sub-Saharan Africa: Challenges, Opportunities and Prospects’, details case studies of economic sectors where digital technologies are making a positive impact.

In Ghana, digital technologies have had an impact on the agriculture sector. Agri-tech firms like Farmable, Farmerline and Esoko have successfully pursued the creation of new business ventures and renewal of existing, matured corporate business models. These agri-tech firms support farmers with pricing data, crowdfunding and communication activities. They are also connecting farmers with buyers as well as helping them work out what differentiates them from competitors.

Digital technologies are playing a role in Nigeria’s agricultural sector too.
Prime Wave , an engineering company that supplies equipment to rice processing firms, and Al-Wabel Trading Company Ltd, a rice miller, have been working together to invent new technological solutions. These are aimed at improving the performance of rice processing. The innovative solutions the company came up with for rice processing can be applied more widely across the agricultural sector. However, these firms have had to overcome regulatory and institutional challenges in the sector.

Crossing boundaries

Digital technologies have also become a part of arts, media and entertainment, in particular in Kenya and Nigeria.

Case studies from Nigeria show how small and medium-sized new media players benefit from embracing a culture of experimentation, partnership and continuous learning. These businesses have adopted a “mobile first” mindset. They do this by using mobile technology as a resourceful, quick and flexible solution to do business, connect and promote their content.

The advertising, game development and media companies that took part in the research had all invested substantially in establishing their own systems for sharing data. These firms also embrace the Passion economy which centres around social causes and high access to mobile technology “as driving forces of the business”.

Nigeria’s movie industry, too, has benefited from digitisation. The technology has improved production time and quality. It has also helped extend the reach of movies to wider audiences. Foreign investors are taking greater interest in this fast growing business.

A potential drawback of digital technology in the arts is that cultural artefacts created digitally can also appear in many places at once. So, instead of gaining visibility it is actually lost in the digital crowd. But Kenyan artists have managed to use social media networks to build their own “cultural capital” and gain access to physical galleries.

Innovation hubs

There’s also been an increase in the number of digital hubs across the sub continent. But do they really help business to start up and survive?

The number of innovation hubs in Africa has grown sharply. There’s BusyInternet and SMSGH Solutions in Ghana; Erik Hersman’s iHub and Safaricom’s M-PESA in Kenya; and Nigeria’s Yaba, a suburb of Lagos labelled the country’s Silicon Valley.

A chapter in our book discusses the social complexity of engaging these hubs. In Accra, the Ghanaian capital, hubs could not provide support that is relevant to local digital entrepreneurs’ circumstances. Entrepreneurs in Harare thought that hubs “wasted precious resources”. Most hubs on the subcontinent also appear to make little contribution to the creation of new businesses.

Perhaps “impact-oriented” investors who are passionate about the region should assist digital hubs to make the necessary changes to how they operate.

Local conditions and culture can shape the “ecosystems” in which businesses operate. Some of these conditions, such as corruption, are hostile to business efficiency. The challenges are most pronounced in the communications, transport, and energy networks. Much of the region’s infrastructure is inefficient, and more than three-quarters of the population remains offline.

Take Nigeria’s movie industry. It needs more than investment. It also needs government to make regulatory changes to protect the creative sector. Government should also prioritise the development of movie industry skills. The same can be said about the music industry.

Afrocentric digital solutions

Overall, the book highlights that in a region with multiple social, environmental, economic and political challenges there is a need for more interrogation into how both incumbent and new players in sub-Saharan Africa are shaping the landscape with a view to meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Digital technologies, as some of our case studies show, can play an important role in transforming African economies. However, digital technology solutions must not just be mere adaptations of dominant Western services and products. They must be aimed at meeting the sub-continent’s needs. In this regard, there’s a lot to learn from Japan.

Demand for technology after the Second World War resulted in the development of a plethora of advanced solutions which secured Japan’s status as an innovator.
There are promising new ventures such as Google’s Artificial Intelligence lab in Ghana – the company’s first in Africa. This is a centre of research into digital solutions to Africa’s problems.The Conversation

Elvira Bolat, Principal Academic in Marketing, Bournemouth University and Nasiru Taura, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Opportunity to share your research at the Bournemouth Air Festival

As part of BU’s public engagement activity BU’s Marketing and Communications (M&C) Team will again have a presence at the Bournemouth Air Festival, which sees tens of thousands of visitors each year. For BU, the purpose will be to raise our profile and showcase the activity we do as part of our outreach activity in schools and colleges.  As part of this, M&C will be running activities which are accessible, participative and relevant to the audience, but we also want to showcase BU’s research to demonstrate the impact we have on our community locally, regionally or internationally – again, all relevant to the audience and a chance to position BU’s research specialisms, breadth and impact.

Members of BU’s outreach and corporate communications team will be on the stand each day of the festival and there is an opportunity to join us for a couple of hours to talk about your research with the public. The event runs from Thursday 29 August to Sunday 1 September .  If you are free to join us at some point over these 4 days, M&C can arrange the necessary pass, help in transporting any display materials you may wish to have on the stand during your visit and promote through our social media channels before and during the festival. There will also be a couple of tables under a covered stand on the main promenade.

It would be great to engage with the public on a range of areas of BU research and if you are interested in joining us please contact Ella Thompson athompson3@bournemouth.ac.uk in M&C and she will be able to plan your visit into our timetable.

The Research Impact Fund is open for applications for 2019/20 – strand 3

Demonstrating impact is becoming an increasingly normal part of academic life, with changes in the external environment underpinning the need to show how research is making a difference beyond academia. As well as forming a significant part of a university’s REF submission, impact pathways are often included as a routine part of funding applications.

In order to support impact development at Bournemouth University, an impact fund was established in spring 2019, overseen by the Research Impact Funding Panel. The first call for applications was launched in March 2019 for the remainder of the 2018/19 academic year. This call is now closed.

For 2019/20, the Research Impact Fund has been split into three strands:

  1. To support the development of new research partnerships and networks, to lay the groundwork for future research projects (£17,500) – now closed.
  2. To provide support for emerging impact from existing underpinning research (£17,500) – now closed.
  3. For the development of impact case studies for REF2021 (£15,000) – open.

We are pleased to announce that the fund is now open for applications for strand 3.

Eligibility

 This strand is open only to those developing an impact case study for REF2021. It is expected that those who are applying for the fund will have previously submitted a draft case study for review through mock REF exercise. If you are yet to submit a draft case study, but believe you have a potential impact case study for REF2021, please speak to your Faculty Impact Officer in the first instance:

 Application process

To apply, please read the application form and policy document. To apply, please read the application form and guidance. Applications must be submitted by your Impact Champion or UoA Lead to researchimpact@bournemouth.ac.uk by Friday 20 September.

 If you have any questions about your application please email either Rachel Bowen (for HSS or FM queries) or Genna del Rosa (for FMC or SciTech queries).

You can also seek advice from the following RDS colleagues when developing your application:

BU’s Research Principles

Putting the Research Impact Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC).

There are eight funding panels:

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. GCRF Funding Panel
  3. Research Impact Funding Panel
  4. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  5. ACORN Funding Panel
  6. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  7. Charity Support Funding Panel
  8. SIA Funding panel

Please see further announcements regarding each initiative.

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles.  Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the Research Impact Funding Panel, please refer to:

  • Principle 5 – which sets of the context for such funding panels,
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9 – which recognises the need for interdisciplinarity and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH).

 

Research Impact Funding Panel closes soon

Demonstrating impact is becoming an increasingly normal part of academic life, with changes in the external environment underpinning the need to show how research is making a difference beyond academia. As well as forming a significant part of a university’s REF submission, impact pathways are often included as a routine part of funding applications.

In order to support impact development at Bournemouth University, an impact fund was established in spring 2019, overseen by the Research Impact Funding Panel. The first call for applications was launched in March 2019 for the remainder of the 2018/19 academic year. This call is now closed.

For 2019/20, the Research Impact Fund has been split into three strands:

  1. To support the development of new research partnerships and networks, to lay the groundwork for future research projects (£17,500)
  2. To provide support for emerging impact from existing underpinning research (£17,500)
  3. For the development of impact case studies for REF2021 (£15,000)

We are pleased to announce that the fund is now open for applications for strands 1 and 2. A separate call for strand 3 will be announced in the summer following feedback from the current mock REF exercise.

Eligibility

1. To support the development of new research partnerships and networks, to lay the groundwork for future research projects (£17,500)

This strand is aimed at Early Career Researchers (those who are within 7 years of completing their doctorate, or equivalent experience, and are not Associate Professors / Professors) and/or staff who are new to research (academic staff who have not published an academic output, or received internal or external funding for research).  The funding aims to support colleagues to engage with key stakeholders at the very beginning of the research process, to establish partnerships and networks to support the co-creation of research questions.

2. To provide support for emerging impact from existing underpinning research (£17,500)

This strand is aimed at academic staff who have evidence of existing underpinning research which has the potential for impact, or is starting to result in impact.  The funding aims to support the development of research impact across BU and begin to identify potential case studies for post-REF2021 exercises.

3. For the development of impact case studies for REF2021 (£15,000)

This strand is for academic staff already developing case studies for REF2021.  One funding call for this strand will be launched in August 2019, following feedback from the current mock REF exercise.

Application process

To apply, please read the application form and guidance. Applications must be submitted to researchimpact@bournemouth.ac.uk by Friday 2 August.

 If you have any questions about your application please email either Rachel Bowen (for HSS or FM queries) or Genna del Rosa (for FMC or SciTech queries).

You can also seek advice from the following RDS colleagues when developing your application:

  • Adam Morris – Engagement Officer
  • Amanda Edwards – Impact Officer for SciTech
  • Amanda Lazar – Impact Officer for HSS
  • Brian McNulty – Impact Officer for FMC
  • Matt Fancy – Impact Officer for FM

BU’s Research Principles

Putting the Research Impact Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC).

There are eight funding panels:

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. GCRF Funding Panel
  3. Research Impact Funding Panel
  4. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  5. ACORN Funding Panel
  6. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  7. Charity Support Funding Panel
  8. SIA Funding panel

Please see further announcements regarding each initiative.

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles.  Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the Research Impact Funding Panel, please refer to:

  • Principle 5 – which sets of the context for such funding panels,
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9 – which recognises the need for interdisciplinarity and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH).

The multiple benefits of dark night skies

When did you last look up at the stars?

The Cranborne Chase has the most amazing, clear night skies because of low light pollution. Dark night skies have multiple benefits. There is a growing body of evidence which shows that avoiding light pollution increases the health and well-being of humans, as well as the natural world that surrounds them.

Cutting down on light pollution helps to decrease carbon emissions. It has been estimated that poor design and use of the 7.5 million streetlights in the UK, results in a total of 830,000 tonnes of unnecessary carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution each year.

Our skyscape represents part of our cultural heritage and potentially also allows us to gain a greater understanding of our own existence; after all, this is where we live. It also allows us to time travel. If we look up at the constellation Orion and focus on the star Betelgeuse we are seeing light that left that constellation 640 years ago; in effect we are looking back at things that happened in the 14th century. The carbon, of which you were made, was formed in the heart of a dying star.

Using Charity Impact Funding we are working on holding a one-day event with the Cranborne Chase Landscape Trust to explore some of these benefits with a wide range of organisations and individuals.

There is significant potential for colleagues within the University to develop long-term relationships and research projects based in a very special area and working with communities that are in effect, just up the road.

Of particular interest is the potential longitudinal nature of such studies, as currently Cranborne Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (CCAONB) is bidding for International Dark Skies Reserve Status. What is the current situation? How will they get Reserve Status? How will this affect the area and its communities, now and in the future?

Don’t be afraid of the dark!

If any colleagues are interested in this work and making connections with the Landscape Trust and the AONB please feel free to contact Dr Sean Beer (sbeer@bournemouth.ac.uk). For more information on the Dark Night Skies of the Cranborne Chase go to http://www.chasingstars.org.uk/ .

Charity Impact Funding Panel closes for applications soon

BU has a small amount of funding available to facilitate engagement and research with charitable organisations. The purpose of the funding is to:

  • Increase engagement with charities in order to further the impact of BU’s research
  • To increase the amount of research undertaken collaboratively with charities
  • Encourage future funding bids with charitable partners.

The fund can be used flexibly, providing a strong case can be made and the assessment criteria are met. Funding could be used to fund travel, equipment, merchandise or event costs etc., but all funding will need to be spent by 31 July 2020 

You can read about an example of a funded project from 2019/20 here.

Eligibility

The fund is open to all researchers across Bournemouth University, including those who are already working with charitable organisations and those who would like to build up new networks.  In particular, the panel would welcome the following types of applications:

  • Small travel grants of up to £200 to help facilitate new relationships with charitable organisations,
  • Projects of up to £2,500 which will either facilitate new relationships with charities or build on existing research collaborations. Applicants will require a supporting statement from the charity they intend to work with.

Application process
To apply, please read the application form and guidance. Applications must be submitted to charityimpact@bournemouth.ac.uk by 5pm on Wednesday 31 July.

If you have any questions about your application please email charityimpact@bournemouth.ac.uk. 

BU’s Research Principles
Putting the Research Impact Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC).

There are eight funding panels:

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. GCRF Funding Panel
  3. Research Impact Funding Panel
  4. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  5. ACORN Funding Panel
  6. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  7. Charity Support Funding Panel
  8. SIA Funding panel

Please see further announcements regarding each initiative over the coming weeks.

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles. Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the Charity Impact Funding Panel, please refer to:

  • Principle 5 – which sets of the context for such funding panels,
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9 – which recognises the need for interdisciplinary and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH).

Fit for the Future – Leadership and Social Sciences: call for evidence

Overview

The ESRC has launched its national consultation as part of the ‘Fit for the Future’ project and seeks your input. Led by Professor Matt Flinders from the University of Sheffield, this consultation focuses on the need to promote researcher and leadership development within the social sciences and aims to drive forward a more ambitious and collaborative national strategy.

The UK is home to a world-class social science research community which forms a vital element of the wider national science base. In order to nurture and develop this community it is critical to recognise both how the social context within which research takes place, and the research funding landscape are changing in ways that create new challenges and – more importantly – new opportunities.

The ESRC has published the evidence review completed by the project team. The ESRC wants to work collaboratively to respond to this and seeks input from researchers at all career stages, staff working in ROs to develop research capability, senior university leadership teams together with other organisations interested in building leadership capacity to inform the next stages in development. They particularly welcome responses to questions raised within the consultation paper which accompanies the review.

BU is preparing an institutional response to this call and welcomes your contribution to a topic that is critical to the future health and vitality of the social sciences.

How to contribute

If you’d like to contribute to our response, please could you complete this survey by Wednesday 31 July.

Charity Impact Fund open for applications

BU has a small amount of funding available to facilitate engagement and research with charitable organisations. The purpose of the funding is to:

  • Increase engagement with charities in order to further the impact of BU’s research
  • To increase the amount of research undertaken collaboratively with charities
  • Encourage future funding bids with charitable partners.

The fund can be used flexibly, providing a strong case can be made and the assessment criteria are met. Funding could be used to fund travel, equipment, merchandise or event costs etc., but all funding will need to be spent by 31 July 2020.  

Eligibility

The fund is open to all researchers across Bournemouth University, including those who are already working with charitable organisations and those who would like to build up new networks.  In particular, the panel would welcome the following types of applications:

  • Small travel grants of up to £200 to help facilitate new relationships with charitable organisations,
  • Projects of up to £2,500 which will either facilitate new relationships with charities or build on existing research collaborations. Applicants will require a supporting statement from the charity they intend to work with.

Application process
To apply, please read the application form and guidance. Applications must be submitted to charityimpact@bournemouth.ac.uk by 5pm on Wednesday 31 July.

If you have any questions about your application please email charityimpact@bournemouth.ac.uk. 

BU’s Research Principles
Putting the Research Impact Fund into strategic context, under BU2025, the following funding panels operate to prioritise applications for funding and make recommendations to the Research Performance and Management Committee (RPMC).

There are eight funding panels:

  1. HEIF Funding Panel
  2. GCRF Funding Panel
  3. Research Impact Funding Panel
  4. Doctoral Studentship Funding Panel
  5. ACORN Funding Panel
  6. Research Fellowships Funding Panel
  7. Charity Support Funding Panel
  8. SIA Funding panel

Please see further announcements regarding each initiative over the coming weeks.

These panels align with the BU2025 focus on research, including BU’s Research Principles. Specifically, but not exclusively, regarding the Charity Impact Funding Panel, please refer to:

  • Principle 5 – which sets of the context for such funding panels,
  • Principle 6 and Outcome 9 – which recognises the need for interdisciplinary and the importance of social science and humanities (SSH).

New research website launched

The new research section of the BU website is now live, following the conclusion of a project between Marketing & Communications (M&C) and Research Development & Support (RDS) to redevelop and migrate the previous research website.

The aim of the project was to increase the profile of our research activities and strengths, leading to better outcomes around our research from website visitors, which could include:

  • Additional research funding,
  • Collaboration and partnership,
  • Expanding international reputation,
  • Consultancy,
  • Expanding publishing and media coverage.

The new pages prominently profile our research projects, research centres and institutes, as well as ways for members of the public to get involved in or find out more about our research events.  These pages will be added to over time, as new research projects and areas of impact emerge.

The old research microsite will be retired over the next couple of weeks, with page redirects in place to enable people to find the new content.

Training

If you would like to learn how to update the new website, then please do sign up for one of the upcoming training sessions:

  • 10:30am – 12:30pm, Friday 7 June,
  • 10:30am – 12:30pm, Monday 10 June.

You can book on to these sessions by emailing Dan Ford (dford@bournemouth.ac.uk) in M&C.

Further training sessions will be announced in due course.  Please contact Rachel Bowen (rbowen@bournemouth.ac.uk) if you would like to attend one.

BU research website – new site coming this month

Over the last few months, M&C and RDS (formerly RKEO) have been working on a project to redevelop the research website and migrate its content into the main BU website.

The aims of the project are to revitalise some of our existing content, better profile our current research strengths and further support beneficial outcomes around our research from website visitors, including:

  • Additional research funding,
  • Collaboration and partnership,
  • Expanding international reputation,
  • Consultancy,
  • Expanding publishing and media coverage.

Members of the project team have visited Faculty Research & Professional Practice Committees / Faculty Research & Knowledge Exchange Committees across all faculties to share information and also gather feedback from academic staff.

The project began with a survey with over 90 academics to find out what they value about the existing research website, what they’d change and how we could better profile their research. We followed this up by working with each Deputy Dean for Research & Professional Practice to fully understand the requirements of all our faculties.

In addition to this, we explored examples of best web practice from around the world to identify the most effective ways of presenting complicated research-based information, such as universities and commercial technological research organisations.

We also broke down our overall research audience to identify the many objectives different classifications of people have in visiting our research content, and identifying how best to create a beneficial user experience for them.

Throughout the autumn and winter, the cross-departmental team have been creating, editing and migrating new and old content. This is being carried out in collaboration with our academic staff, who will have the opportunity to both advise on and sign off any content referencing their work. Once complete, the existing site will be archived so as not to lose any existing content.

The new web content is going live on Thursday 25 April, from which point, we’ll offer full support to any academic needing to update different parts of the research content, specifically Centre, Institute and project content. The existing Research Blog will not be affected by this project at this stage

If anyone has any questions about the project, please contact Dan Ford, M&C or Rachel Bowen, RDS.