Category / BU2025

My state-of-the-art HOME STUDIO for ONLINE TEACHING

Dear BU community,

I am delighted to release the first video of my personal channel, which provides a tour of my home studio for online teaching. If you click on the description of this video, there’s a link to a second video on the 5 Benefits of using the studio. This second video shows in more detail how I use the studio for teaching.

Building the studio has been a challenge, great fun and game changing as far as delivering online teaching experiences is concerned.

If you have a few thousand pounds you can also buy the same equipment.

However, what money can’t buy is the accumulated knowledge required to design and make it work. Hundreds of hours watching videos, reflecting on what I wanted, trying and making a lot of mistakes along the way, and dealing with the frustration of something not working right the first time (as it should).

The learning has been both the greatest challenge but also the most valuable element of the entire journey.

I hope you like it and any comments are welcome. Share the video with colleagues if this is something you think will be useful to them. Lobby your faculty to create a few of these on campus (Sorry Deans!).

And don’t forget to subscribe to my channel! From time to time I will be posting more videos about the use of my home studio for online teaching.

With best wishes

Miguel Moital

BUBS

Research staff ‘virtual writing workshop’ 29 June 13.30-16.30pm

This is a reminder about our ‘Virtual Writing Workshop’ on 29 June 13.30 – 16.30pm. We will have 2 blocks of writing (just over an hour each and then a break in the middle to get a coffee and chat to other researchers if you wish). If you can’t make 13.30 you can join a bit later – no worries.

This is for anyone (PhD student, academic, full time researcher) who wants to/needs to write and would like to do that in the company of colleagues from across the university.

Please come prepared with something you are working on. We recommend turning off email notifications and anything else that could distract to help us get the most out of the time – but your decision – it’s your time!

Please click this Zoom link to join us.

Kind regards, BU Research Staff Association

HEIF Small Fund Awarded for Development of AT4SEND Training Package

A Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) Small Fund has been allocated to develop the Assistive Technology for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (AT4SEND) Training Package. This will be an add-on to the existing AT4SEND Android Application that was previously developed by Dr Paul Whittington, Dr Huseyin Dogan and Professor Keith Phalp through Quality Research Funding. AT4SEND is an Android Application that recommends assistive technologies based on peoples’ physical and cognitive abilities and further details are available at: https://hci.bournemouth.ac.uk/project/at4send/

The prototype AT4SEND app

The HEIF project (Principal Investigator: Dr Paul Whittington and Co-Investigators: Dr Huseyin Dogan, Dr Nan Jiang and Professor Keith Phalp) will commence in May 2021 and complete by end of July 2021 with a sub-contractor developing the training package. The aim of the add-on is to enhance assistive technology training for teachers, teaching assistants and support staff, therefore promoting the use of assistive technology in an educational environment. This aligns to the UK Government’s current strategy, ‘Realising the potential of technology in education’, which is supported by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology. The training package will consist of resources on available assistive technologies, including links to online videos and quizzes focusing on specific technologies. We are viewing AT4SEND as a form of continuous professional development with defined pass marks for the quizzes.

During the initial requirements elicitation phase of the project, we will have discussions with schools and assistive technology providers, to determine the features and functionality of the training package. Once the training package has been developed, we will approach mainstream and special educational needs schools to conduct evaluations involving their staff. This is anticipated to be in time for the start of the new academic year in September 2021. Based on our previous SmartAbility and Authentibility Pass research, we have existing contacts with local schools and charities, who will be involved in the project, such as Victoria Education Centre and London Grid for Learning. Dr Whittington and Dr Dogan are academic representatives on the Smart Homes and Independent Living Commission and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Assistive Technology who will both be approached for disseminating the training package.

Once the development has been completed, the application is anticipated to be available on the Google Play Store. We will post another article on completion of the development where we will include screenshots of the AT4SEND Training Package.

NEW BOOK JUST OUT : Gamification for Tourism by: Feifei Xu, Dimitrios Buhalis

NEW BOOK JUST OUT : 

Gamification for Tourism

Edited by: Feifei XuDimitrios Buhalis

 

Summary This book examines the cutting-edge concept of gamification in tourism. It provides a theoretical foundation for tourism gamification and discusses the concepts of gaming and gamification and their application in the tourism and hospitality industry. The chapters offer valuable insights by showcasing examples of best practice from different countries and addressing key issues of game mechanism and game design principles. They focus on areas such as game design elements, game player types and their motivation, location-based games, augmented reality and virtual reality games. The volume will be useful for students and researchers in tourism marketing, digital tourism, smart tourism and tourism futures. It also serves as a helpful tool for tourism industry practitioners looking to increase customer engagement, enhance loyalty and raise brand awareness.

 

Request an inspection copy  Price: £39.95 Add to basket (GBP)  | Price: $59.95 Add to basket (USD)  | Price: €54.95 Add to basket (EUR)

Individuals can get 50% discount if ordering direct before 31 May 2021 https://www.channelviewpublications.co.uk/page/detail/Gamification-for-Tourism/?k=9781845418229

 

Related Formats: HardbackEbook(PDF)Ebook(EPUB)

ISBN: 9781845418229

Publisher: Channel View Publications

Number of pages: 312

Dimensions: 234mm x 156mm

Published: 14th May 2021

 

Review

Author Biography

Contents

Readership

Book Preview

 

Chapter 1. Feifei Xu & Dimitrios Buhalis: Gamification in Tourism: The Cutting-Edge Trend in Tourism

Part 1: Gamification Theories

Chapter 2. Demos Parapanos & Eleni Michopoulou: Gamification, Game Mechanics, Game Thinking and Players’ Profile and Life Cycle

Chapter 3. Russell B. Williams: Understanding Games and Gamified Experiences: The MAPS-AIM Model

Chapter 4. Ye (Sandy) Shen & Marion Joppe: Gamification: Practices, Benefits and Challenges

Part 2: Gamification Application and Case Studies

Chapter 5. Zuhal Cilingir Uk & Yaşar Gultekin: Gamification Applications in Hospitality and Airline Industries: A Unified Gamification Model

Chapter 6. Marianna Sigala & Elin Nilsson: Innovating the Restaurant Industry: The Gamification of Business Models and Customer Experiences

Chapter 7. Feifei Xu and Shaojin Li: Gaming and Branding: A Case Study of the Austria Adventure Game

Chapter 8. Luiz Pinto Machado: Gamification and Geocaching for Tourism Destinations: Marketing Madeira, Portugal

Chapter 9. Pablo Garrido-Pintado: Advergaming in Tourism: Spanish Cases

Chapter 10. Russell B. Williams: Pokémon GO: Serious Leisure and Game-Playing Tourists

Chapter 11. Sara MacBride-Stewart, Clare Parsons and Ilona Carati: Playfulness and Game Play: Using Geocaching to Engage Young People’s Well-being in a National Park

Chapter 12. Evrim Çeltek: Gamification: Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and Tourism Marketing Applications

Chapter 13. Feifei Xu & Dimitrios Buhalis: Conclusion

 

Research Impact Funding Panel

This week, our series of blog posts focus on the internal funding panels. Today’s post shares some insights from the Research Impact Funding Panel.

About the Research Impact Funding Panel

The Research Impact Funding Panel was established in Spring 2019 to support the development of impact and to gather evidence of the impact of BU’s research, in line with the BU2025 Research Principles.

Over 50 projects have been funded across three strands:

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

The Panel is chaired by Professor Dinusha Mendis, with Dr John Oliver as Deputy Chair.

Funded projects

The Research Impact Funding Panel have funded a wide variety of projects, ranging from £10,000 for larger scale activities to just a hundred pounds for travel and networking.

Team based approaches

Successful projects have embodied BU’s research principle of developing teams, with 94% of funded projects including internal and/or external partners. For example, Amanda Korstjens (FST) worked with colleagues from BU’s Department of Life and Environmental Sciences and Department for Creative Technology, BU MRes and PhD students, as well as charities and community groups in Indonesia to create science-based artworks to assist local communities to curtail forest degradation and wildlife killing, and develop tourism engagement activities. You can read more about the project here.

Impact development

Almost half of the funded projects have contributed to impact case studies for BU’s REF 2021 submission, and the funding received has helped to increase the quality of the case studies. Here are just a few examples of how research impact funding has supported our REF impact case studies:

  • Ann Luce from FMC used funding to create the Suicide Reporting Toolkit for Journalists and Journalism Educators which is now used by journalists worldwide.
  • Jane Murphy from FHSS used funding to incorporate her research findings into a new resource developed by the National Association of Care Catering (NACC), and to disseminate at the NACC Training and Development Forum.  As a result, the recommendations from Jane’s research are now being used by the catering sector in the provision of food and nutritional care.
  • Vasilis Katos from FST and Maurizio Borghi from FMC used funding in to work with colleagues from the EU Intellectual Property Office to produce software tools to complement and accompany the Law Enforcement Guide for Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) investigations, resulting in increased visibility and use of the guide.

The Research Impact Fund has also supported many fantastic examples of emerging impact. Anita Diaz (FST) and her interdisciplinary team, have used funding to work collaboratively with the National Trust to create a Habitat Management Spatial Database for the Purbeck Heaths National Nature Reserve (NNR). Relationships were built with Purbeck Heaths NNR Management Steering Group and the Wild Purbeck Partnership to facilitate use of the database among the wider community of conservation organisations and land managers. Over the coming years, this will benefit the conservation management and monitoring of the nationally important Purbeck Heath’s NNR.

External funding

Several of the funded projects have been successfully awarded external funding, following initial internal funding from the Research Impact Fund. For example, Anna Feigenbaum (FMC) was awarded UKRI/AHRC funding for a project entitled “Comics in the time of COVID-19” which built on the initial projects enabled by the Research Impact fund.

 Future of the Research Impact Fund

The Research Impact Fund has now reached the end of its agreed three-year funding. This continuation of the Fund will be considered as part of the development of the next three-year plan for research development (2021-2024).

Supporting Cyprus reignite the MICE industry

Reignite Cyprus Tourism: Meet In Cyprus
MICE Industry developments: Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Exhibitions
Panel discussion in #Cyprus #tourism #MICE #marketing
Deputy Minister of Tourism Savvas Perdios
Panos Podimatas CEO of Podimatas Group
Professor Dimitrios Buhalis Bournemouth University International Centre of Tourism and Hospitality Research

How do I get involved with the Strategic Investment Areas at BU? Insight for academics and professional service staff

Since BU’s strategic plan went live in 2018, one of the questions that I am frequently asked – in my capacity as a research manager – is how do I get involved in the Strategic Investment Areas? This is a remarkably tricky question to answer, as I’m always concerned that being overly prescriptive risks stifling creativity and innovation; and as such you won’t find a prescriptive list of ways to get involved in strategic growth. After all, we are a University, and not a sausage factory, so providing operational frameworks that assume certain inputs will lead to a set of standardised outputs, is far from appropriate.

I’ve also met with considerable antagonism over the years as to the nature of the SIAs with a common criticism that they focus on a small number of STEM orientated areas. As a social scientist myself (who spent ten years undertaking interdisciplinary research before stepping over to the ‘dark side’), I would dispute this perception, and would suggest that the scope of the SIAs is tremendous, and there is great contribution to be made from all disciplinary areas. I’ve yet to find any area of research which does not link, in some way at least, to the scope of the SIAs – although, feel free to challenge me! Much like undertaking public engagement, some disciplinary areas take a bit more creativity to make the connections, but it is always possible if you are willing.

But how do you make a meaningful contribution to strategic growth without a list of schemes, events and seed funding opportunities to feel as if you are ‘doing something’?  Here are some of my ideas, on how anyone from BU’s academic community can become more closely involved with the SIAs:

  • Get involved with an existing SIA-related initiative. They are all inherently interdisciplinary in nature, led and supported by welcoming colleagues. Details of the initiatives, including IMSET, IMIV and the ASV Network have been posted this week on the Research Blog.
  • Got an idea you’d like to pursue, or an area of interest and a skill set you’d like to contribute to something bigger? Get networking. Cross University strategic growth rarely happens owing to one individual working in isolation. One of the great joys of working in Higher Education is the ability to connect with a vast breadth of disciplinary and methodological expertise, and – perhaps more importantly – a set of colleagues with a passion for research and addressing the challenges that society faces.
  • Have an idea that has the potential to change the world? Tell the University about it so it can be enabled. We currently have an open call running for game-changing concepts so you can do exactly that. This is your opportunity to highlight what you could do and articulate what you need support with the achieve it.
  • Apply for external funding, be bold in how much you apply for and don’t think to yourself that it is ‘too early’ in your career. Funders, especially more ‘non-traditional funders’ are often looking for radical/innovative ideas to enable through funding and are often short of fundable solutions. Always ensure your application tells the funder how your research will enable their strategic aims and don’t assume they will be able to make the connection if you articulate your research interests and associated questions alone (i.e. without answering the question as to why it is beneficial to the funder to support you).
  • Build your external networks. In particular, consider how colleagues at BU can enable you to do this. For example, Dr Alastair Morrison – our International Partnerships Manager – does a fantastic job making connections between BU and Universities around the world. Ian Jones, our Head of External Engagement has an extensive contact book and is actively seeking ways to ensure he can enable our strategic research growth.
  • Build a digital presence by considering how you can reach out through the power of social media, including our very own research blog and your BU staff profile page (powered by brian.bournemouth.ac.uk). In the world of digital marketing, content is so important (hello algorithms), so get yourself known and have confidence in your ideas.
  • Ask those outside of academia what the major challenges that they face are. This is can be such a rich source of inspiration. Industry captains may well be able to articulate a problem their factories have faced for years, or children may ask the seemingly obvious questions which require research to resolve. One that sticks in my mind from a child at a local event who asked, ‘why don’t we make prosthetics for racing horses rather than putting them to sleep?’ Why not indeed.
  • Prioritise strategic research growth, make a plan and find a way of sticking to it. It’s very easy for research dreams to ‘get lost’ in the day to day, with education and domestic duties seemingly endless. It is important to carve out the time to think creatively and to plan what you will do by when. And to paraphrase Sheryl Sandberg, done is better than perfect (perfectionism being so interlinked with procrastination).

This is not exclusive to our academic community; our professional services have an integral role to play in enabling strategic research growth. Without engaged professional service colleagues, we will not be able to fully realise the potential of our game-changing research ideas. Exactly how  research becomes a lived reality depends on the nature of research and specific operational support required, but an excellent first step is to listen to researchers on how your service (and associated processes and culture) can be a core enabler. Knowledge exchange between academics and practitioners is an area I am passionate about and one which I am always delighted to discuss further, in any fora. Looking at the trajectory of other institutions can also be inspirational: The University of Bath’s historic development provides a fascinating reminder of how Universities can grow rapidly to meet the needs of society; hundreds of years of history is not a pre-requisite for being a world-leading research institution.  The success of such institutions has not been based purely on academic strengths, but the collaborative cross-team working to make an ambition a lived reality. Good practice exchanges with counter parts in other institutions can help to reveal the most effective path forward, and the diversions that are best avoided!

Securing strategic growth is not easy; it presents many challenges to overcome which are intellectual and operational in nature. That said, the challenges these present can be instrumental in our development and capabilities in leading transformative research (see, for example, the concept of a Crucible). What I do know, is that since joining BU some nine years ago, confirmed by our most recent REF submission, I have seen the University grow exponentially from 2014 to 2021. As we look ahead to the future, I look forward to continuing to collaborate with colleagues. I firmly encourage you all to engage with our SIAs, and for us all to collaborate, not just to secure a strategic growth for BU, but also address the core challenges society needs us to.

5 films made in lockdown; innovation and experimentation during Covid-19

Co-creation for Screened and Heard; 5 films made in lockdown

Screened and Heard, headed up by Annie East with Dr Sam Iwowo, is a collection of five short films produced by women in lockdown who set themselves a challenge during the pandemic to tell a story, learn new skills and explore new ideas. Provoked initially by a newspaper article about women’s research dropping during lockdown whilst men’s increased, this group response was not only about the final films but about the process and support given to enable these women, who each had different caring responsibilities, the opportunity to have a voice and complete a project under the complex conditions that the pandemic presented. Annie East and Dr Samantha Iwowo plan to use the films as a springboard to further research areas. Below is a Q&A with the editor, alumnus Owen Trett BA Television Production Class of 2020.

Fig. 1 Owen BATV graduate working on Dr Samantha Iwowo’s film ‘In Zoom We Trust’. Photo: Owen Trett

Why did you want to get involved with Screened and Heard?

Screened and Heard was a great opportunity to take part in after graduating from Bournemouth University. I believe that taking part in a project that focused on showcasing the voices of women filmmakers during the lockdown of 2020 was extremely beneficial to the industry.

What involvement did you have with each film?

I ensured that each film was the highest quality it could be in. Due to the circumstances, most filmmakers were limited in their choices of equipment. I made sure that whether the film was recorded on a DSLR, phone, or webcam, that each film was tidied up and treated equally as if recorded on industry-standard equipment.

I was then in control of the detailed edit for most of the films. It was a great way of improving my editing skills and working with a variety of different formats and visions.  My graduate project was recorded entirely through Skype and influenced by the 2018 Aneesh Chaganty film “Searching”, so I applied these skills from my graduate film to the edit of Screened and Heard.

A year on what do you think about the films?

It’s been interesting to see the direction that the film and TV industry has headed in going into 2021. I feel that all early lockdown content, like “Staged” (BBC) for example, has a very grounded aesthetic compared to pre-lockdown content. Seeing content like this, of actors at home recording pieces to camera, as having an authenticity to it.

I feel that the films showcased in Screened and Heard have a similar vibe, this sort of authentic look to them is hard to replicate outside of the context of Covid. “Working from Home” for example, dealing with themes of lockdown relationships and home-schooling, I feel that we will take a lot of these grounded concepts and continue to use them throughout the future of TV / film storytelling.

What was it like working on an project based on a true story about bereavement during Covid 2020? (In Zoom We Trust)

I feel privileged to be able to work on a project that dealt with such a raw and personal topic. I think that, because the content dealt with quite a sensitive subject, there was a lot of pressure to make sure that it was edited correctly, in a manner that was respectful.

Samantha (Iwowo) really has an amazing directorial vision, and allowed me to use creative techniques that I hadn’t used in this format before. I was lucky to be able to work with her on this project, and I’m glad that she had a positive response to the edit.

How has being involved with Screened and Heard helped you as you graduated and went to look for work in the UK film and TV industry?

Trying to find work during a pandemic was not the easiest process in the world. However, working on the Screened and Heard projects really helped boost my portfolio. it showed that as an industry worker, I had the ability to overcome limitations and adapt to complicated situations.

In early 2021 I was offered a job working from home as a Junior Video Editor for the video games company Sumo Digital.

Anything else you would like to comment on?

I loved my time at BU, I met some of the most amazing and talented students from both the BATV and BA Film courses. The staff were some of the most supportive tutors that I have ever had the pleasure of being taught by. A lot of practitioners within the media industry do argue that university isn’t needed for a media career, and I would like to respectfully disagree. Those three years at BU allowed me to figure out who I was, who I wanted to be, and created a network of friends and colleagues that I will continue to use throughout my career. Although my time at BU was cut short by the pandemic, I would not have traded in those years for anything else, and if you gave me the chance to do it all again, I would do it in a heartbeat.

 

REIGNITE LONDON – London Calling: Sharing is Caring! rebuilding life, communities and economythrough Hospitality and Tourism and the Central London Alliance

REIGNITE LONDON – London Calling: Sharing is Caring! rebuilding life, communities and economy
through Hospitality and Tourism and the Central London Alliance
JOIN US Tuesday 20th April 15:00:-17:00

The meeting will be broadcasted LIVE on Facebook

Organised by:
Bournemouth University International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research
Central London Alliance
PATA UK Bournemouth University Student Chapter
Chaired: Professors Dimitrios Buhalis and Adele Ladkin
Keynote: Tony Matharu, Integrity International Group and Central London Alliance
Panel:
Daniela Wagner, Travel Weekly Group and PATA EMEA
Robert Paterson, CEO, Best Western Hotels
CENTRAL LONDON ALLIANCE is a collection of London businesses large and small, communities, charities,
associations and authorities who are pooling their resources and considerable influence to push
for a faster and more sustainable recovery of the capital city.

The Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation (IMIV): getting involved with this SIA enabled initiative

The Institute of Medical Imaging & Visualisation (IMIV) has come to fruition thanks to a central University strategic investment and support from the Dorset LEP Growth Fund. A cross University team, and a series of new appointments, have worked tirelessly over the past two years to turn the concept into a reality. Having overcome the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Institute will shortly be opening its doors to progress the strategic priorities of the Institute.

Some of the first projects that will utilise the MRI scanner at the heart of the institute, stem from the internal pump priming scheme announced in late 2020 and include:

  • a project to investigate alterations in functional connectivity following therapeutic cold-water immersion (led by Professor Hana Burianova)
  • a study investigating the brain networks involved when two people work together responding to visual targets (led by Dr Xun He)
  • the investigation of a novel, cost-effective and non-invasive therapeutic intervention for individuals with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus (led by Dr Rebecca Rendell) and
  • a group of lumbar spine 3-D scans to inform future grant applications for studies into intervertebral loading during spinal motion using MRI and our niche fluoroscopy technology (led by Professor Alan Breen).

Projects are also planned by Professor Carol Clark exploring the impact of sub-concussion on footballers and a pilot study on the feasibility of using abbreviated MRI for liver cancer screening for at-risk patients, led by Anmol Gangi and Dr Jamie Franklin.

Of course, the possibilities for research relating to advanced imaging are endless. As this article from the Chan Zuckerberg initiative articulates, the past, present and future of medical imaging is a truly fascinating endeavour, with endless possibilities for the future through interdisciplinary collaboration.

To forward future research, the IMIV team welcomes research collaboration ideas and colleagues across BU to access the research facilities housed by the institute. To learn more, read about IMIV on BU’s website or contact the core team directly on: IMIV@bournemouth.ac.uk

‘Doing Diversity Better: Interrogating ethnic and gender equality among BAME academics in HE’ April 22 14.00-16.00

The Women’s Academic Network (WAN) at BU are delighted to host this powerful and timely public engagement, open-to-all, Q&A Panel Discussion on one of the most important and urgent issues facing Higher Education (HE) in the UK today.

The Vice Chancellor, Professor John Vinney, will formally open the event which brings together four hugely eminent women academics of-colour, as well as a representative from the Bournemouth University Student Union (SUBU), who are all working within the broad areas of racialisation/ethnicisation and social inequalities. Each panellist will bring their own particular research expertise together with intellectual and experiential understandings to a grounded, candid and in-depth discussion of diversity in contemporary HE.

For more details and registration: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/womens-academic-network-bournemouth-university-doing-diversity-better-tickets-146743055429

The panel context

UK HE is characterised by a homogeneity that fails to reflect social diversity, particularly in terms of ethnicity, gender and social class. These issues need to be located within a complex terrain of interwoven, intersectional experiences. The handy portmanteau term: ‘BAME’ (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) can also unhelpfully work to subsume entire groups who are otherwise subject to different levels of discrimination that may thereby remain less visible and therefore neglected. For example, a UCU 2019 report recorded that of a total number of professors in the UK, those self-identifying as ‘Black’ numbered just 85 individuals, and of these a mere 25 were women (Rollock 2019). While recent HESA (2020) data confirms that less than 1% of UK professors self-identify as Black. Unsurprisingly, Mizra (2019, p. 39) refers with horror to the overwhelming ‘hideous’ whiteness of academia. This alarming lack of representation among minority ethnic groups in HE not only exemplifies a dereliction of social justice but is demonstrably counterproductive to the academy across every area of scholarly endeavour, including inclusive pedagogy. The Race Equality Charter under AdvanceHE offers a valuable tool towards remedial action, but without direct debate, will towards and strategies for root-and-branch sector change, such charters are unlikely to create the necessary traction.

Our Panellists:

Professor Kalwant Bhopal is Professor of Education and Social Justice Professor of Education and Social Justice Director of the Centre for Research on Race and Education, University of Birmingham

Professor Ann Phoenix is Professor of Psychosocial Studies, at the Thomas Coram Research Unit, UCL Institute of Education

Dr Samantha Iwowo is the Programme Leader of MA Directing, Film and TV at BU.

Professor Gargi Bhattacharyya is Professor of Sociology at the Centre for Migration, Refugees and Belonging, University of East London

Ms Chiko Bwalya is the Education Vice President of SUBU.

We in WAN look forward to welcoming you.

Colleagues – please share among your networks. Students welcome

Research in the time of COVID: Insights from IMSET and opportunities for collaboration  

In this blog post, Dr Fiona Coward explores the profound challenges faced in establishing a transformative research agenda when you lose two seasons of fieldwork, but reminds us of the importance of undertaking activities which are energising and inspiring. On behalf of the IMSET team, she also invites greater collaboration to accelerate our research contribution as we look towards the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26) later this year.  

Well, what a time to pick to launch a research institute! Back in early 2020, we were very excited to have recruited four great new colleagues to the brand new Institute for the Modelling of Socio-Environmental Transitions (IMSET) and anticipated great things… Little did we know. A year later, still in lockdown, we’ve learned a few things about doing research in the time of COVID. How do you do research in lockdown? As many have found, doing anything in lockdown can be tricky. The stress of life under lockdown during a global pandemic is enough to deal with on its own, and of course those of us with caring responsibilities have had other pressures. Add that to the extra time consumed by the frantic shift to online learning – the need to record and caption lectures and plan engaging interactive virtual sessions in lieu of face to face seminars, the additional time spent supporting struggling students… For many of us, research had to take a backseat simply because there were only 24 hours in a day and we were exhausted.  

There are more practical problems, too: some research simply can’t get done in lockdown. Computer modelling can in theory be done from home… but only if you have the data. Producing new data, however, is … well, tricky. To generate entirely new data on global ecology and human behaviour, there’s no getting around the fact that you need to get out around the globe. It’s impossible to understand past patterns of sea level rise in northern Vietnam without going out there and logging the coordinates of sea notches on the ground; likewise, understanding past environments around the long-drowned continent of Beringia which once connected eastern Russia and north-western America can’t be done without fieldwork to collect samples of ancient plants and animal species. And without access to labs and specialist equipment, it’s impossible to analyse samples and data collected previously. We valiantly battled this one: IMSET’s postdoc was faintly embarrassed to have a new fridge delivered to her house at the start of lockdown, worried she’d be accused of stockpiling food rather than needing space to keep temperature-sensitive samples that could – with difficulty – be studied at home. OK, well fieldwork could wait, yes? Well, no, not really … much of IMSET’s fieldwork is highly seasonal in nature. For fairly obvious reasons, it’s quite difficult to collect ecological samples from Alaska during the northern hemisphere’s winter. Likewise, tramping around Vietnam or Jordan in the heat of summer is definitely best avoided. So when the window of opportunity for one year expires, that’s it until the following year …. We assumed. Only to find ourselves still in lockdown a full year later: two field seasons down. Even with the vaccination programme rolling out relatively swiftly in the UK, travel to other countries will remain difficult; where vaccination rates are slower than the UK, ethically it will not be possible even for vaccinated British people to travel there and work with local teams for extended periods. Similar problems are faced by researchers in any field where data collection is time-sensitiveFor those of us lucky enough to be on permanent contracts this is a blow; without data, associated schedules of processing and analysis, writing up, publications, dissemination and other impact activity have to remain on hold., pushed back indefinitely. For those on fixed term contracts – PGRs and post-doctoral researchers – it’s a massive problem. Extensions to funding from UKRI bodies seem unlikely, but future employment and careers hang on presentations, publications, collaborationsIt remains unclear how these issues will be accounted for, going forward. 

Well, then perhaps we could use the time instead to plan future research projects, develop grant proposals? Well, maybe … The funding landscape changed dramatically during the pandemic, with available funding shunted towards COVID-related research. While to a certain extent that’s understandable, we do also need to keep focus on longer-term challenges – climate change, for example. That’s not going away, global pandemic or no! Grant proposals already under way slowed as we and our collaborators dealt with all the additional demands on our time and thinking; some proposals just couldn’t be progressed because they relied on pilot studies, originally planned for 2020, that had been put on hold; RKE, struggling valiantly with a raft of short-term COVID related projects with extremely short lead times, understandably had less time for support; uncertainties over HE funding in the short and medium term prompted more careful scrutiny of prospective bids, and put the kibosh on some which had been years in development. 

Grants already submitted now look out of date as they failed to foresee the coming global pandemic; ones being submitted now need careful consideration of the ways in which they can be adapted or modified in the event of ongoing global or local lockdowns and COVID mitigation measures. Reviewing and decisions about outcomes either way is also taking longer, as everyone deals with the same problems. The funding landscape of the future remains unclear, but post-Brexit and in the wake (hopefully!) of the pandemic ongoing economic concerns forcing difficult decisions (witness the recent withdrawal of the ODA money from already allocated projects!), we can expect big changes. 

The past year has been a difficult one for many. Time for research was squeezed or simply vanished as we tried to get our heads around phonics (yes – teachers are saints)remain sane as we watched the death count grow on a daily basis; worrabout our loved ones and wonder when we might get to see them again.   And yet research remains important, even – dare I say it – fun. Energising. One thing I have learned is that just as the best response to feeling run down and exhausted is – counterintuitively – to do some exercise, the best response to despair in the face of the impossibility – surely? – of research, is to dive back in. Finding it difficult to think deeply about anything right now? Time-limited? (I know I’m both!) One answer might be to create short stints of time in the madness to just chat about your research interests. Maybe it will, ultimately, lead to a formal project, or collaboration, or grant proposal …. And maybe it won’t, but perhaps that’s OK. It will kickstart your grey matter and – dare I say it – give you a chance to think about something other than the day-to-day grind of life in a pandemic, to chat with friendly colleagues facing the same problems, and to explore research and fusion-related questions, issues and themes without any pressure. OK, so research in the time of COVID is difficult – but it’s difficult for everyone. It’s not just you, promiseSo let’s work together to improve things. Remember when research was fun, not just another chore you had to squeeze into your overstuffed day? Let’s bring a little of that fun back again.  

Part of that joy – and growth from the adversity we encountered – comes in seeking out new collaborations and, with it, directions for future research, impact and engagement. Not least as the UK looks towards hosting COP26 and considering the impact of climate change once again. With that in mind, we would like to invite colleagues across BU and beyond to work with us. IMSET has a series of events in the pipeline which all are welcome to attend, and if you can’t make them then just drop us a line and we can catch up with a virtual coffee and chatWe’re interested in all things sustainability, from systems modelling to working with local communities across the globe to understand how people interact with their environments and to develop resilience and sustainability at the grass roots. If you work in any area relating to sustainability, human/environment relations, community engagement or beyond, drop us a line! Contact the core team, or email IMSET@bournemouth.ac.uk

The past year has taught a lot – one thing it’s made abundantly clear is the power and importance of researchNot all of us can directly work on preventing the next global pandemic, but COVID has also sparked a lively debate about the impact of human interactions with other animals and with the environment more generally; probably many of us can contribute in some way to this wider picture, so if you’re interested, get in touch and let’s help each other get through! 

Research seminar is on the Way! 😇Detox with nature: Communicating with the great outdoors, urban greenery and its history – 25th May 2021 From 10:00 –11:30 (ZOOM)

We will have a seminar session with a guest lecturer, Professor Hiroko Ochiai (National Hospital Organization Tokyo Medical Center, Japan). This research seminar is conducted via ZOOM.
Professor Ochiai and Dr Oe will present the recent research outcome ‘Detox with nature: Communicating with the great outdoors, urban greenery and its history’.  Professor Ochiai is a Chief of Department of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, National Tokyo Medical Center and also a Certified physician of Forest Medicine.

Our research focuses on the the well-beings with forest bathing with medical evidence in the community context. This seminar is held in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as ‘Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being’and ‘Goal 17: Partnership for Goals’. This session also aligns with BU2025 strategic investment areas (SIAs), Medical Science.

The BU ECRs, PhD researchers, and MSc students are welcome to this session.
*For more details, please email to Hiroko Oe :hoe@brounemouth.ac.uk