Category / Featured

How to hunt a giant sloth – according to ancient human footprints

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: Alex McClelland, Bournemouth University

By Matthew Robert Bennett, Bournemouth University; Katie Thompson, Bournemouth University, and Sally Christine Reynolds, Bournemouth University.

Rearing on its hind legs, the giant ground sloth would have been a formidable prey for anyone, let alone humans without modern weapons. Tightly muscled, angry and swinging its fore legs tipped with wolverine-like claws, it would have been able to defend itself effectively. Our ancestors used misdirection to gain the upper hand in close-quarter combat with this deadly creature.

What is perhaps even more remarkable is that we can read this story from the 10,000-year-old footprints that these combatants left behind, as revealed by our new research published in Science Advances. Numerous large animals such as the giant ground sloth – so-called megafauna – became extinct at the end of the Ice Age. We don’t know if hunting was the cause but the new footprint evidence tells us how human hunters tackled such fearsome animals and clearly shows that they did.

White Sands National Monument. Matthew Bennett, Bournemouth University, Author provided

These footprints were found at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico, US, on part of the monument that used by the military. The White Sands Missile Range, located close to the Trinity nuclear site, is famous as the birth place of the US space programme, of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars initiative and of countless missile tests. It is now a place where long-range rather than close-quarter combat is fine-tuned.

Tracking the footprints. Matthew Bennett, Bournemouth University, Author provided

It is a beautiful place, home to a huge salt playa (dry lake) known as Alkali Flat and the world’s largest gypsum dune field, made famous by numerous films including Transformers and the Book of Eli. At the height of the Ice Age it was home to a large lake (palaeo Lake Otero).

As the climate warmed, the lake shrank and its bed was eroded by the wind to create the dunes and leave salt flats that periodically pooled water. The Ice Age megafauna left tracks on these flats, as did the humans that hunted them. The tracks are remarkable in that they are only a few centimetres beneath the surface and yet have been preserved for over 10,000 years.

Footprint comparison. David Bustos, National Park Service

Here there are tracks of extinct giant ground sloth, of mastodon, mammoth, camel and dire wolf. These tracks are colloquially known as “ghost tracks” as they are only visible at the surface during specific weather conditions, when the salt crusts are not too thick and the ground not too wet. Careful excavation is possible in the right conditions and reveals some amazing features.

Perhaps the coolest of these is a series of human tracks that we found within the sloth prints. In our paper, produced with a large number of colleagues, we suggest that the humans stepped into the sloth prints as they stalked them for the kill. We have also identified large “flailing circles” that record the sloth rising up on its hind legs and swinging its fore legs, presumably in a defensive, sweeping motion to keep the hunters at bay. As it overbalanced, it put its knuckles and claws down to steady itself.

Plaster cast footprints. David Bustos, National Park Service

These circles are always accompanied by human tracks. Over a wide area, we see that where there are no human tracks, the sloth walk in straight lines. Where human track are present, the sloth trackways show sudden changes in direction suggesting the sloth was trying to evade its hunters.

Piecing together the puzzle, we can see how sloth were kept on the flat playa by a horde of people who left tracks along the its edge. The animals was then distracted by one stalking hunter, while another crept forward and tried to strike the killing blow. It is a story of life and death, written in mud.

Matthew Bennett, dusting for prints. David Bustos, National Park Service

What would convince our ancestors to engage is such a deadly game? Surely the bigger the prey, the greater the risk? Maybe it was because a big kill could fill many stomachs without waste, or maybe it was pure human bravado.

At this time at the end of the last Ice Age, the Americas were being colonised by humans spreading out over the prairie plains. It was also a time of animal extinctions. Many palaeontologists favour the argument that human over-hunting drove this wave of extinction and for some it has become an emblem of early human impact on the environment. Others argue that climate change was the true cause and our species is innocent.

It is a giant crime scene in which footprints now play a part. Our data confirms that human hunters were attacking megafauna and were practiced at it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t cast light on the impact of that hunting. Whether humans were the ultimate or immediate cause of the extinction is still not clear. There are many variables including rapid environmental change to be considered. But what is clear from tracks at White Sands is that humans were then, as now, “apex predators” at the top of the food chain.


Professor Matthew Robert Bennett, Professor of Environmental and Geographical Sciences, Bournemouth University; Katie Thompson, Research Associate, Bournemouth University, and Dr Sally Christine Reynolds, Senior Lecturer in Hominin Palaeoecology, Bournemouth University

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

Sunken Nazi U-boat discovered: why archaeologists like me should leave it on the seabed

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Sea War Museum

By Innes McCartney, Bournemouth University.

The collapsing Nazi government ordered all U-boats in German ports to make their way to their bases in Norway on May 2, 1945. Two days later, the recently commissioned U-3523 joined the mission as one of the most advanced boats in the fleet. But to reach their destination, the submarines had to pass through the bottleneck of the Skagerrak – the strait between Norway and Denmark – and the UK’s Royal Air Force was waiting for them. Several U-boats were sunk and U-3523 was destroyed in an air attack by a Liberator bomber.

U-3523 lay undiscovered on the seabed for over 70 years until it was recently located by surveyors from the Sea War Museum in Denmark. Studying the vessel will be of immense interest to professional and amateur historians alike, not least as a way of finally putting to rest the conspiracy theory that the boat was ferrying prominent Nazis to Argentina. But sadly, recovering U-3523 is not a realistic proposition. The main challenges with such wrecks lie in accurately identifying them, assessing their status as naval graves and protecting them for the future.

U-boat wrecks like these from the end of World War II are the hardest to match to historical records. The otherwise meticulous record keeping of the Kriegsmarine (Nazi navy) became progressively sparser, breaking down completely in the last few weeks of the war. But Allied records have helped determine that this newly discovered wreck is indeed U-3523. The sea where this U-boat was located was heavily targeted by the RAF because it knew newly-built boats would flee to Norway this way.

Identification

The detailed sonar scans of the wreck site show that it is without doubt a Type XXI U-boat, of which U-3523 was the only one lost in the Skagerrak and unaccounted for. These were new types of submarines that contained a number of innovations which had the potential to make them dangerous opponents. This was primarily due to enlarged batteries, coupled to a snorkel, which meant they could stay permanently underwater. Part of the RAF’s mission was to prevent any of these new vessels getting to sea to sink Allied ships, and it successfully prevented any Type XXI U-boats from doing so.

The Type XXI U-3008. Wikipedia

With the U-boat’s identity correctly established, we now know that it is the grave site of its crew of 58 German servicemen. As such, the wreck should either be left in peace or, more implausibly, recovered and the men buried on land. Germany lost over 800 submarines at sea during the two world wars and many have been found in recent years. It is hopelessly impractical to recover them all, so leaving them where they are is the only real option.

Under international law all naval wrecks are termed “sovereign immune”, which means they will always be the property of the German state despite lying in Danish waters. But Denmark has a duty to protect the wreck, especially if Germany asks it to do so.

Protection

Hundreds of wartime wreck sites such as U-3523 are under threat around the world from metal thieves and grave robbers. The British cruiser HMS Exeter, which was sunk in the Java Sea on May 1, 1942, has been entirely removed from the seabed for scrap. And wrecks from the 1916 Battle of Jutland that also lie partly in Danish waters have seen industrial levels of metal theft. These examples serve as a warning that organised criminals will target shipwrecks of any age for the metals they contain.

Detailed sonar scans have been taken. Sea War Museum

Germany and the UK are among a number of countries currently pioneering the use of satellite monitoring to detect suspicious activity on shipwrecks thought to be under threat. This kind of monitoring could be a cost-effective way to save underwater cultural heritage from criminal activity and its use is likely to become widespread in the next few years.

Recovery

The recovery cost is only a small fraction of the funds needed to preserve and display an iron object that has been immersed in the sea for many years. So bringing a wreck back to the surface should not be undertaken lightly. In nearly all cases of salvaged U-boats, the results have been financially ruinous. Lifting barges that can raise shipwrecks using large cranes cost tens of thousands of pounds a day to charter. Once recovered, the costs of conservation and presentation mount astronomically as the boat will rapidly start to rust.

The U-boat U-534 was also sunk by the RAF in 1945, close to where U-3523 now lies. Its crew all evacuated that boat, meaning that she was not a grave when recovered from the sea in 1993 by Danish businessman Karsten Ree, allegedly in the somewhat incredible belief that it carried Nazi treasure. At a reported cost of £3m, the operation is thought to have been unprofitable. The boat contained nothing special, just the usual mundane objects carried on a U-boat at war.

U-534 after the rescue. Les Pickstock/Flickr, CC BY

Similar problems were experienced by the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in the UK when it raised the Holland 1 submarine in 1982. In that case, the costs of long-term preservation proved much greater than anticipated after the initial rust-prevention treatment failed to stop the boat corroding. It had to be placed in a sealed tank full of alkali sodium carbonate solution for four years until the corrosive chloride ions had been removed, and was then transferred to a purpose-built exhibition building to protect it further.

The expensive process of raising more sunken submarines will add little to our knowledge of life at sea during World War II. But each time a U-boat is found, it places one more jigsaw piece in its correct place, giving us a clearer picture of the history of the U-boat wars. This is the true purpose of archaeology.


Innes McCartney, Leverhulme Early Career Fellow, Department of Archaeology, Anthropology and Forensic Science, Bournemouth University

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

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship Interview Training – Book Now

Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship Interview Training

Monday, 14th May 2018 – 09:30-16:00

Reserve your place now!

This workshop is aimed primarily at ECRs but may be of benefit to academics and researchers wishing to apply for RAE fellowships that require an interview. This intensive event will introduce the Royal Academy of Engineering Research Fellowship scheme and go through eligibility, requirements and assessment criteria.

Attendees will think about how they fulfil these criteria, start to plot ideas for a proposal and consider whether the Fellowship is right for them. There will even be a chance to practice interview skills so you’ll get an insight into every step of the application process.

 

For the future, there will also be a similar workshop for the Royal Society on 5th July 2018. You can book now for that event too.

 

 

 

Fit for nothing: where it all went wrong for Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games legacy

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PA, CC BY-SA

By Lynda Challis, Bournemouth University

“Our vision is to host a successful, safe and secure Games that deliver a lasting legacy for the whole of Scotland, and to maximise the opportunities in the run up to, during, and after the Games.”

This was the promise made by the Scottish government to the Commonwealth in 2014. In the 12 days of competition that followed, the city of Glasgow achieved a “hero-like status”, Team Scotland achieved its biggest-ever medal haul of 53 medals, and the games recorded the highest number of tickets sold for a sporting event in Scottish history.

Minister for sport Aileen Campbell hailed the event as a huge success by announcing that Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games was the largest sporting and cultural event ever held in Scotland and had changed the lives of thousands of people.

The message from the host nation was clear: the games were not just about showcasing elite athletes, but about delivering a legacy that would provide a flourishing economy, celebrate cultural diversity, embrace sustainable living, and create a more physically active nation. But four years on, not all those ambitions have been achieved.

Getting a nation off the couch

The games were considered a golden opportunity for Scotland to harness the power of sport to motivate a sedentary nation. A ten-year implementation plan was launched in 2014 to tackle physical inactivity across Scotland as well as myriad other initiatives to support communities in improving the local sporting infrastructure.

Two and a half years after the games, an interim report by the Scottish parliament’s Health and Sport Committee was undertaken to assess the progress made in increasing physical activity levels across Scotland.

The report concluded that there was no evidence of an active legacy being achievable. More alarmingly, any evidence of a relationship between the hosting of a major sporting event and raising the host nation’s physical activity levels was inconclusive.

This raises serious questions as to why such an ambitious legacy aim was included in the first place given the likelihood of failure. It could be that the Scottish government included the aim of increasing participation within its legacy pledge as a desperate attempt to address Scotland’s poor health profile, one of the worst in Europe.

Glasgow’s east end, the main site of the 2014 Commonwealth Games, is considered one of the poorest urban areas in Europe. Chris Perkins/Flickr, CC BY-SA

A final evaluation report on the impact of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games published by the Scottish government days before the opening ceremony of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games highlighted the harsh reality that the active legacy programme had not “resulted in a step change in population levels of physical activity in Scotland”.

In fact, the GoWell East study that tracked participant levels within the surrounding area of Glasgow found that overall rates had actually declined, with just over 53% achieving the recommended physical activity levels in 2016, compared to 62% in 2012.

However, the east end community surrounding the main games site is one of the most deprived areas in Scotland, with some of the worst statistics in Europe for child poverty, health, crime, and alcohol and drug abuse. This could account for the declines in physical activity levels in the east end of Glasgow as the underlying reasons behind social inequalities in sports participation is poverty – not having the income to spend on sport.

Policy fail

But Glasgow is not alone. Other nations hosting major sporting events have failed to capitalise on the perception that a sprinkling of magic over a big sports event will motivate a population to become active. Data that tracked participation levels of Australians before, during and after the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games found they had declined, due – ironically – to Australians spending more time watching sport on TV than taking part themselves.

Undoubtedly, many nations believe that elite sporting success and the hosting of major sporting events on home turf can encourage mass involvement, and in turn create an active nation. An example of this is London’s 2012 Olympic Games, which promised to “do something no other Olympic Games host nation had done before”: inspire a new generation of young people to get involved, get active and take part in sport. This bold statement from the UK government has since been questioned, because in fact, no previous games had even attempted to leverage improved physical activity as a legacy outcome.

Despite their glossy success, London’s Olympics also failed to improve rates of participation in sport. PA, CC BY-SA

It became abundantly clear post-London 2012 that the Olympic Legacy promise had failed to come to fruition with figures showing no more young people taking part in sport than before the games. As has been argued elsewhere, there is still a lack of robust evidence to suggest that the presumed trickle-down effect of hosting a major sporting event can trigger an increase in physical activity.

Big spend but no return

The failure of London 2012 and Glasgow 2014 to create and inspire a nation to get active is not really surprising. For more than 40 years, community sports policy in Britain has been plagued by failings to meet physical activity performance indicators set by governments.

This could be down to a variety of factors including: poor policy analysis to inform future policy-making decisions; overambitious or naïve participation targets; inadequate resources to deliver long-term programmes; and changes in direction leading to ambiguity regarding who is responsible for delivery.

Given these issues, it is understandable that grass-roots sport policies and major sporting events have failed to encourage more people to get active. Future government policy on community sport needs to have an all-party group commitment, that is evidence-based to ensure objectives are realistic. It needs to have a long-term plan and be adequately funded to ensure that there are real and lasting results.

In the end, we have to face a difficult truth: governments continue to invest in costly elite sport and big extravagant sporting events that come at the expense of community sport.


Lynda Challis, Academic in Sports Development, Bournemouth University

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

Hungary elections: it’s the most popular party on Facebook, so why haven’t you heard of the Two-Tailed Dog?

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EPA/Tibor Illyes

By Annamaria Neag, Bournemouth University and Richard Berger, Bournemouth University

With more than 278,000 followers on Facebook, Hungary’s Two-Tailed Dog Party was the the most popular party on social media to stand in the country’s 2018 election. However, its online popularity did not help win seats in the vote which delivered Viktor Orbán a third term as prime minister by a landslide. In an anti-establishment approach, the Dogs’ campaign was carried out entirely by volunteers and official campaign funds were used to support community projects.

Despite only coming away with 1.71% of the votes, however, the party has pushed an important boundary in Hungarian politics.

Puppy training

The Two-Tailed Dog Party was founded in 2006, although formal recognition didn’t come until 2014. It defined itself as a joke party from the start, becoming famous for making fun of other political groups – mainly the mainstream Fidesz, led by Orbán.

Its activities range from street art to graffiti to urban gardening. It even smuggles soap and toilet paper into hospitals in order to highlight the dire state of some healthcare facilities. In 2016, the party crowdfunded €100,000 to cover the country in satirical posters mocking the government’s call to vote against EU refugee quotas in an impending referendum.

Then in 2018, just a couple of weeks before the deadline, the party managed to get enough signatures to be able to participate in the national parliamentary elections. The jokers were getting serious.

A Two-Tailed Dog sticker appears on a Budapest lamp post.

In an election campaign dominated by the supposed “threat” posed by immigration and the perceived influx of migrants to Hungary, the Two-Tailed Dog party used social media to draw attention to a statistic published on the national police website showing that one migrant had been “caught” in the last 30 days. Its satirical response to this shocking figure read: “There is an enormous interest in our country. But we cannot rest assured: The migrant entered our country.”

Domestication

All political parties use emotions to persuade people to vote for them. The Two-Tailed Dog party and its kind are trying to undermine establishment organisations by turning humour into political action.

In a process social scientists call “kynicism”, the Two-Tailed Dog party borrowed and remixed government messages for its own aims. The idea is to mock the government’s rhetoric in order to disperse fear and anxiety.

In Hungary, it’s unclear what the future holds for the Two-Tailed Dog party, or these joke parties more broadly. There is a fundamental mismatch between the way everyday politics works and the vision of the party.

Party leader Gergő Kovács told us:

I can’t really tell how many of our Facebook fans would vote for us … To be honest, for me the parliamentary elections are not important. For me, it’s much more important to see what we can do … I have to confess: my aim is to create something creative and funny, and yet meaningful … I think it is useless to have one more opposition party that has a serious programme. I have no interest to do politics in the traditional way.

If the case of Iceland’s Pirate party shows us anything, it is that parties like the Two-Tailed Dog have a tendency to lose their edge once they gain political influence. In 2016 the pirates topped opinion polls, and seemed to become a real political force by winning ten seats in the parliament. However, in the latest elections, they won only six seats.

Alternative parties, like the Two-Tailed Dog exist to mock from outside the mainstream. But what’s the point of a political party if it doesn’t really want to get elected and to introduce its policies?

For now, that’s not a question the Two-Tailed dogs need to answer, since they failed to make it into parliament.

But the group has nonetheless radically re-energised young people. It has tested the limits of convention in Hungary’s political process. Kovács told us that when it comes to larger campaigns, “two thirds, or three quarters, of our ideas come from the people … For instance, we write an economic programme, post it to Facebook and in a couple of minutes, there are three to four better ideas in the comments, so we take it down and add these ideas. So, in fact it really comes from the people”. The next step is for the group to translate those likes on social media into actual votes.


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

10th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference Winner Profiles

On Wednesday 7 March 2018 the Doctoral College hosted the 10th Annual Postgraduate Research Conference which brought together and recognised the excellence of BU’s postgraduate research.

Meet this year’s winners:

  Mark Stevens, Faculty of Management

Research topic: A social identity approach to understanding physical activity.

Why I chose this research topic: As a regular runner, and someone who engages in a lot of physical activity myself, I am a strong believer that being active should be a priority for us all. Having also seen first hand the issues being inactive can cause, and being aware of the scale of the inactivity crisis we are facing on a global scale, I am passionate about understanding the factors that influence people’s physical activity levels and devising effective ways of getting—and keeping—people more active.

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me: My PhD has given me the opportunity to learn a wide variety of new skills and develop my existing skills in several areas. For example, working closely with my supervisors, collaborating with researchers around the world, and working to publish journal articles has helped me learn several advanced methods of statistical analysis and develop my academic writing.

Quick quote:  Following on the physical activity theme, but also a good thought about working hard: “Nobody ever drowned in their own sweat!”

  Stephen Allard, Faculty of Media & Communication

Research topic: When does Page become Stage: Exploring Evolving Poetic Practices in Digital Spaces.

Why I chose this topic: The growth and popularity of social media sites, especially within the last decade, has arguably forever changed the way that we imagine, interact with, and relate to, each other. With increasing cynicism towards these new social worlds of words, with terms such as ‘fake news’ ingrained in the public consciousness, I am fascinated by how poets might add their voices to these new social frontiers. If a search for truth about online interaction is currently only revealing something increasingly seen as fake, then can perhaps poets, using something fictional, reveal new truths about ourselves, and each other, online?  

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me: Bournemouth University has a rich, diverse, and interactive postgraduate research community, that actually feels like a community. Through events, workshops, and talks, I have gained the opportunity to work with a range of talented and passionate researchers, working across many fields and in many disciplines. This has not only pushed the boundaries and possibilities of my own research, but also opened up new opportunities, and completely new ways of thinking about the postgraduate experience.

Quick quote: Oscar Wilde: ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation’

Louise Oliver, Faculty of Health & Social Sciences

Research topic: Family Narratives of Child-to-Parent Violence and Abuse: Lifting the Veil of Secrecy

Why I chose this topic:  I have worked within Children’s Social Care for over a decade, with a focus on working with family violence and abuse.  As part of my practice, it became apparent that there was a dearth of research about children who are controlling, aggressive and/or violent towards their parents, as well as limited targeted support for families experiencing child-to-parent violence and abuse.   This motivated me to study this form of family violence and abuse in order to further prevent, intervene and support families experiencing this.

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me: ​This research has helped in many ways, it has helped develop my practice by improving my theoretical understanding of family violence and abuse, and I have been able to incorporate this within my practice.   I am also in a position that I am able to offer advice and guidance to my colleagues.

Quick quote:  “…a moment of silence, a question without answer, provokes a breach without reconciliation where the world is forced to question itself” (Foucault 1967)

Amal Musa Almoualed, Faculty of Media & Communication

Research topic: Saudi Women Journalists—An Exploration of Their Role and Practice in an Age of National Transformation

Why I chose this topic:  The advancement, development and empowerment of women is a lifelong interest of mine, something I wish to study and achieve in my personal and professional life. This motivated me to approach my research from both sides—‘journalism’ and ‘women’—in order to combine my joint passions for journalism research and the advancement of women.

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me:  Being a researcher in Women and Journalism at Bournemouth University has developed my personal and professional skills and exposed me to other cultures. This has helped broaden my horizons and also helps me communicate more effectively with professionals and colleagues from different cultures.

Quick quote:   These are two of my own quotes, which I always recall whenever I need to encourage myself to continue pursuing my dreams:

‘Being a woman means to have patience, determination, enthusiasm and confidence as you challenge any barriers that limit your success in your personal and professional life.’

‘Some women seek to be pretty and work hard to remain pretty their entire life; however, I believe my prettiness is determined by being mindful, ambitious, and successful in achieving my goals.’

  Ejike T. Ezeh, Faculty of Health & Social Sciences

Research topic: Shared decision-making: investigating the potential of an interactive, web-based information tool to support treatment choice of people with advanced pancreatic cancer

Why I chose this topic:  I have always been interested in the impact of information technology in healthcare, and when the opportunity became available, I applied and was selected. Also, being able to help people in making important decisions about their health is a rewarding experience for me.

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me:  Research has taught me that you have to be very thorough and systematic even in the most basic things in life. Someone may build on your work in the future. I am more careful in my utterances as well. There must be sufficient evidence to support them.

Quick quote:  When the going gets extremely tough, then you are close to a breakthrough.

 Nurist Surayya Ulfa, Faculty of Media & Communication

Research topic: I am undertaking a PhD on ‘the digital virtual consumption practices and commercial enculturation among Indonesian Muslim girls’. In particular, the work aims to account for how Indonesian Muslim girls’ engagement with DVC in Girls games shapes both their literacy of and desire for Western consumer culture and the role of Islam in the process. By doing this, enables me to shed light on the interplay between market and religion under the consumer culture theory traditions.

Why I chose this topic:  Since 2009, as an academia in Diponegoro University Indonesia, I have been interested in studying children and marketing communication themes in Indonesia. My PhD problematization derived from my previous finding on Muslim children engagements with local and global media practices.

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me:  Undertaking PhD in Bournemouth University is a journey that I have thoroughly enjoyed so far. The reliable and supportive supervisory team is obviously the best part of my PhD journey. By way of their guidance, I have learned a lot about my research area and had valuable opportunities to develop myself.

Giulia Levi, Faculty of Health & Social Sciences

Research topic: Between silence and agitation. Coping strategies and third-party interventions in divided societies: a comparison between post-conflict Bosnia and post-referendum UK.

Why I chose this topic:  The Brexit referendum has favoured the emergence of new lines of division in the British society. After years working in civil society organisations operating in divided contexts I have seen how initiatives to bridge societal divisions often apply standardised models overlooking the specificities of the contexts and of the people they work with. My project looks at how such initiatives are experienced by beneficiaries in order to develop a more socio-culturally sensitive approach.

Example of how research at BU has changed things for me:  Since I started my PhD I’ve had the chance to participate in workshops and conferences, meeting researchers I could discuss my ideas with. As part of my research I am exploring the cultural diversity of Dorset collaborating with civil society organizations on the ground that work on hate crime prevention and victims’ support.

Quick quote:  ‘Every culture is always on a nomadic path’ (M. Engelke)

#TalkBU presents… Coping with stress in changing health behaviours

#TalkBU is a monthly lunchtime seminar on Talbot Campus, open to all students and staff at Bournemouth University and free to attend. Come along to learn, discuss and engage in a 20-30 minute presentation by an academic or guest speaker talking about their research and findings, with a Q&A to finish. 


Often our New Year resolutions involve changing unhealthy habits in the coming year. But how many of us have actually managed to change our unhealthy lifestyle and maintained it? Changes can be stressful, but how one manages the change can potentially ease that stress and make the change more achievable, which can potentially impact our physical and psychological well-being.

In this talk, Dr Fiona Ling will discuss her research that centres around physical activity behaviour change, and the extended implications on changing other health habits and public health promotions in order to encourage a healthy lifestyle.

When: Thursday 19 April at 1 – 2pm

Where: Room FG04, Fusion Building

Register here to attend

Click here to find out more about our future and previous #TalkBU events.

Can the cricketers banned for ball tampering ever regain their hero status? It’s happened before

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Steve Smith has borne the brunt of the public and media vitriol over Australian cricket’s ball-tampering scandal. EPA/Muzi Ntombela

By Keith Parry, Western Sydney University and Emma Kavanagh, Bournemouth University

Overnight, Cricket Australia handed out its promised “significant sanctions” for a ball-tampering incident that has engulfed the sport in scandal. Steve Smith and David Warner, the team’s captain and vice-captain, have been banned for 12 months. Cameron Bancroft, who carried out the failed plot, received a nine-month ban.

It was also revealed it was sandpaper, and not “yellow tape and the granules from the rough patches of the wicket” as originally claimed, that Bancroft tried to use to alter the ball’s condition in the Test match between South Africa and Australia.

While the International Cricket Council (ICC) initially suspended Smith for only one Test, all three are now banned from international and domestic (professional) cricket in Australia. Smith and Warner have also had their lucrative Indian Premier League contracts torn up, and some sponsors have already distanced themselves from the players and the sport. But these measures fall short of the lifetime bans some called for.

As captain, Smith has borne the brunt of the public and media vitriol, particularly as he accepted responsibility for what had happened. He may yet be Australian captain again in the future.

But according to Cricket Australia’s investigation, it was Warner who developed the plan and instructed Bancroft – a younger player – to carry it out. Warner also showed a “lack of contrition” and will therefore not be considered for any leadership position in the future.

Does the punishment fit the crime?

Ball tampering is clearly cheating; it breaks the rules and is against the “spirit of cricket”. But while it has been deemed the “moral equivalent of doping”, there is a lack of consistency in how sanctions are dished out to offenders.



Read more:
Just not cricket: why ball tampering is cheating


Bans for doping violations are often severe. Players such as Andre Russell have been banned for 12 months for failing to record their whereabouts for drug testing. But, historically, ICC bans for ball tampering have been more lenient: Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi received a two-game ban for biting the ball in an attempt to alter its condition.

Pakistan’s Shahid Afridi’s bite-tampering incident.

However, a harder line has been taken for incidents of match-fixing. Three Pakistan players were banned and jailed for a spot-fixing incident in 2010. South Africa’s Herschelle Gibbs received a six-month ban in 2000 for agreeing to fix a match, even though he did not follow through with it.

Lifetime bans are not uncommon in sport generally. Ryan Tandy was banned for life for attempted spot-fixing in a rugby league game. Lance Armstrong was banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life and had his results voided for his serial doping in cycling. Even figure skating is not immune: Tonya Harding was similarly banned for hindering the prosecution into a vicious attack on a fellow competitor.

It is difficult to compare sanctions across sports. But, when doing so, the inconsistencies are apparent. Boxer Mike Tyson was handed a 15-month ban for biting off part of Evander Holyfield’s ear; footballer Luis Suarez received an eight-game ban for racially abusing an opponent; fellow footballer Paul Davis only served a nine-match ban for punching and breaking an opponent’s jaw.

In light of these punishments, are nine- and 12-month bans for premeditated cheating and lying reasonable and just?

Cricket Australia has been criticised for the time it took to reach a decision. But it’s essential that due diligence is done and facts are gathered before a sentence is handed down. Without this, decisions are made through the pressure of public shaming, and social media get to cast the final vote on the punishment.

If sporting organisations want players to act morally on field, then they too should be guided by moral behaviour in governing the sport.

Sport Player Offence Sanction
Athletics Ben Johnson Doping Two-year ban and stripped of titles; lifetime ban after second offence
Rugby league Ryan Tandy Spot-fixing Lifetime ban from playing in the NRL
Rugby league Cronulla Sharks players Doping 12-month bans (backdated)
Australian football 34 Essendon players Doping 12-month bans
Baseball Shoeless Joe Jackson Alleged match-fixing Lifetime ban
Figure skating Tonya Harding Hindering prosecution into attack on fellow figure skater Lifetime ban
Cycling Lance Armstrong Doping Banned from sanctioned Olympic sports for life and results voided
Boxing Mike Tyson Biting opponent’s ear off 15-month ban
Association football Luis Suarez Racial abuse Eight-game ban
Association football Luis Suarez Biting opposition player Four-month ban

Forgive and forget?

Society is often keen to forgive top athletes when they transgress. When athletes admit their mistakes and ask forgiveness it is usually granted.

Over time, sports fans also tend to forget athletes’ errors and focus solely on their on-field ability. In cricket, for instance, Don Bradman’s role in disputes over pay as a cricket administrator is largely glossed over. Shane Warne’s year-long ban for a doping violation is rarely mentioned.

Drugs cheats are accepted (and sometimes welcomed) back into sport – some even after multiple doping offences.

In many sports, athletes’ chequered pasts are ignored in favour of their on-field ability. It is often the actions that come as a result of their behaviour that are judged, and not the infringement itself.

Athletes frequently transgress, but their subsequent redemption is often woven into the narrative around them. Stories around sporting heroes follow several patterns, but the most recognised is the hero’s journey. The “hero” sets out on a quest but is faced by a crisis or descends into a hellish underworld. They “heroically” overcome these challenges and ultimately return to glory.



Read more:
Are you monomythic? Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey


In this instance, Smith, Warner and Bancroft are in a hell of their own making. If they manage to return, and do so triumphantly, then it is likely they will be forgiven – and some may even forget their role in this sorry affair. Only time will tell whether they will again be considered heroic.


Keith Parry, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, Western Sydney University and Emma Kavanagh, Senior Lecturer in Sports Psychology and Coaching Sciences, Bournemouth University

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

Just not cricket: why ball tampering is cheating

File 20180325 54875 1oeehy7.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

In happier times: Cameron Bancroft and Steve Smith talk to the media during the victorious Ashes series. AAP/Darren England

By Keith Parry, Western Sydney University; Emma Kavanagh, Bournemouth University, and Steven Freeland, Western Sydney University

Australian cricket is engulfed in scandal after TV cameras caught Cameron Bancroft attempting to manipulate the condition of the ball during the team’s third Test match against South Africa. Bancroft and the Australian captain, Steve Smith, subsequently admitted to the offence and the collusion of the player leadership group in the decision to do so.

Altering the condition of the match ball is against the rules of the sport, contrary to “the spirit of cricket”, and deemed to be “unfair”. It is a form of cheating.

What is ball tampering?

Cricket is not only controlled by a set of rules but, according to the sport’s laws, it should also be played “within the spirit of cricket”.

Like most sports, cricket is a self-regulating entity. The national associations and, ultimately, the International Cricket Council (ICC) enforce the laws. That said, cricket remains tied to gentlemanly ideals and the myth of “fair play”.

This “spirit” encourages respect for players and officials while advocating for self-discipline. Significantly, it says the:

… major responsibility for ensuring fair play rests with the captains.

Within these rules, law 41.3 identifies changing the condition of the match ball as an offence and “unfair play”. Specifically, law 41.3.2 states:

It is an offence for any player to take any action which changes the condition of the ball.

But why is the condition of the ball so important?

The ability to “swing” a ball is a prized skill in cricket. Altering the condition of one side of the ball can help it to swing, and may provide an advantage to the bowling team.



Read more:
Video explainer: Bowling strategies and decision-making in cricket


Players try regularly try to “rough up” one side of the ball by, for instance, deliberately bouncing it on hard ground or applying sweat or saliva to it in ingenious ways. Such practices are not deemed to be contrary to the laws, even if they may not be within the spirit of cricket. Cricketers can bend the rules but not break them.

However, others have been known to use fingernails to scratch the ball, or have rubbed it on the zip of their trousers. Such measures are against the laws and are punishable under the ICC’s Code of Conduct.

In this case, Smith has been banned for one match and fined his match fee. Bancroft, who was caught with a piece of yellow sticky tape that he was attempting to use to tamper with the ball, has also been fined most of his fee and issued three demerit points.

Risk and reward

When games are evenly matched, small gains from cheating can be enough to swing the result one way. This has occurred in other sports.

Sport is now a commercial product with large rewards for winning. In addition, when players are representing their country, there may be considerable pressure to win at all costs, particularly when sport plays a prominent role in the country’s national identity.

According to Smith, the Australians “saw this game as such an important game”. Here, the significance of the game and the team’s desire to win are used to justify cheating. The spirit of cricket and “fair play” were given little thought.

In his work on match-fixing, investigative journalist Declan Hill identifies several questions that may be considered when players are contemplating cheating. The importance of the game is a key factor. Prospective cheats will also evaluate whether they can win without cheating and the sanctions they risk if they are caught.

The Australian cricketers believed the game was slipping away from them. They either did not think they would be caught, or were not deterred by the possible sanctions.

Leading by example

In several cases of cheating, it has been senior players that have induced their younger teammates to cheat.

Two former cricket captains, South Africa’s Hansie Cronje and Pakistan’s Salman Butt, both recruited younger, less experienced players in their attempts to manipulate cricket matches. Similarly, Bancroft is at the start of his Test career and appears to have been influenced by others in the team.

Rather than ensuring fair play, Smith contrived to break both the game’s laws and spirit. Worryingly, it was not just Smith and Bancroft, but a group of senior players who were initially involved.

The players will have evaluated whether it was morally right to cheat and decided that winning was more important. While not a “crime” in the traditional sense of the word, the premeditated nature of these actions increases the level of deception and subsequent outrage surrounding the decision.

The event calls into question not only the behavioural integrity of those involved but also more broadly the moral integrity of the environment in which they function. This is an environment that leaves players viewing ball-tampering on this scale as a viable match-winning strategy.

Smith’s role, as captain, has often been described as the second-most-important job in Australia (after the prime minister). It is for this reason that the Australian Sports Commission has called for him, along with any members of the leadership group or coaching staff “who had prior awareness of, or involvement in, the plan to tamper with the ball”, to stand down or be sacked.

The plot to tamper with the ball was a clear attempt to cheat and has brought the spirit of cricket into question. The implications of being caught cheating or significance of the action were overruled in favour of an outcome: winning a match.

Such actions demonstrate the short-term focus players can have in the moment, ignoring the magnitude of their decisions. In this case, the fallout will be far greater than any punishment the sport will hand out.


Keith Parry, Senior Lecturer in Sport Management, Western Sydney University; Emma Kavanagh, Senior Lecturer in Sports Psychology and Coaching Sciences, Bournemouth University, and Steven Freeland, Dean, School of Law and Professor of International Law, Western Sydney University

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

2018 BU PhD Studentship Competition closes at 5pm on Monday 26 March 2018

Call for submission of a further 18 matched funded Postgraduate Research Projects for the 2018 BU PhD Studentship Competition closes at 5pm on Monday 26 March 2018.

Academic staff are invited to submit proposals for matched funded studentship projects which, if successful, will be advertised to recruit PhD candidates for a September 2018 start.

Full details can be found on the Doctoral College Staff Intranet where the following information can be found:

Submission Deadline:

Applications should be submitted on the Studentship Proposal Form to the Doctoral College via email to phdstudentshipcompetition@bournemouth.ac.uk no later than 5pm on Monday 26 March 2018.

The Doctoral College will manage the recruitment process along the following timetable:

Date Action
February 2018 Launch PhD Studentships Internal Competition – development of proposals
26 March 2018 Closing date for submission of proposals
w/c 2 April 2018 Faculty panel meetings to rank projects
w/c 16 April 2018 Central panel meeting to allocate funding
14 May 2018 Launch PhD Studentships External Competition – recruitment of candidates
30 June 2018 Closing date for External Competition
September 2018 Successful Candidates start

Congratulations to the winners of the 2018 Research Photography Competition

This year marks the forth year of our annual Research Photography Competition at BU. We received 31 submissions from BU academics, students across all levels and professional services.

Sharing research through photography is a great opportunity to make often complex subjects much more accessible to all.  This year over 1,500 people from all over the world voted in the competition, showing the power of images to engage and inspire.  The research behind photos this year included areas such as archaeology, dementia and forensic science, among others.

The photography theme this year was people.  The theme was open to interpretation, with photographers choosing to take an image of their research team, show people who might benefit or be affected by the research or even take a point of view shot.  This year’s winners were announced in the Atrium Art Gallery on Tuesday 20 March, with prizes presented by Professor John Fletcher, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Research and Innovation.  Details of the winners can be found below.

The photos are currently displayed in an art exhibition in the Atrium Art Gallery which demonstrates the creativity of our BU researchers and the diversity of research being undertaken. It’s a really enjoyable way to find out about research in areas within and outside your discipline or interests, and value the work and efforts.   Do drop in and see the images, if you have a few minutes to spare!

The winners of the 2018 Research Photography Competition are:

1st place: Virtual Reality: The best way to train surgeons of the future?

By Shayan Bahadori (Orthopaedic Project Manager) and Mara Catalina Aguilera Canon (Postgraduate Researcher, Faculty of Media and Communication). 

In recent years we have seen a decline in theatre operating training time for junior surgeons. Simulators have subsequently been increasingly integrated as training, selection and evaluation tools. To fully formally integrate simulation into orthopaedic training we require evidence that the simulators are valid representations of the operations they seek to replicate. This is one the current research focus at Orthopaedic Research Institute (ORI) and we pursue to validate and develop virtual reality orthopaedic simulators so that they may be adopted into mainstream clinical practice.

2nd place: Soil micro-organisms

By Hai Luu (Postgraduate student, Faculty of Science and Technology).

Ciliates protozoa are a distinct group of unicellular organisms. They are abundant phagotrophic micro-organisms in soil, playing important role in food webs by controlling the abundance of smaller microbes and recycling organic matter. Ciliates are characterised by some specific traits. Firstly, ciliates are dikaryotic organisms due to having two different cell nuclei; one is responsible for reproduction; the other one carries out cell functions. Secondly, they use cilia for locomotion and feeding. Interestingly, ciliates can reproduce asexually and sexually. From an ecological and functional point of view, ciliates can be used as bioindicators of soil quality – and this is the aim of our research. We are investigating the species richness and abundance of ciliated protozoa in natural and agricultural soils in order to assess their potential as bioindicators of soil quality. Soil quality plays an important role  in agricultural production in terms of both quantity and quality, this links closely to quality of human life. This image shows Colpoda cucullus, a terrestrial ciliate commonly found in soils around the world, which was taken as a point of view shot through a microscope.

Research group: Hai Luu, Professor Genoveva Esteban, and Dr Iain Green (Senior Lecturer in Biological Science). Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology.

3rd place: The birth of Carnival U

By Dr Nicole Ferdinand (Senior Lecturer in Events Management) and her MSc Events Management student researchers: Diane Nthurima (pictured on the left), Cindy Chen (pictured on the right), Rui Bao, Yi-Hsin Chen, Simona Georgieva,  Amelie Lonia, Anh Thu Pham, Taylor Treacy and Sharif Zandani.

The photo is a joint entry by the co-creators of the Carnival U which consists of 10 enthusiastic and one BU academic. Together they are embarking on a journey to create a unique a fusion project. The students are working together with BU academic, Dr Nicole Ferdinand, CEL Learning and Teaching Fellow 2017/18, to create 4 workshops which target other university students interested in Carnival. They will engage in action research as part of the development of their workshops as well as evaluate the overall effectiveness of their co-creation efforts which will form the basis of an academic research paper. The project will also leave an educational legacy for other students wishing to develop event management, marketing and digital literacy skills.


The exhibition will be open until Thursday, 29 March at 2pm, in the Atrium Art Gallery on Talbot Campus. Please do fill in one of our feedback cards in the gallery after visiting the exhibition.

Research Photography Competition awards ceremony today!

The awards ceremony for this year’s Research Photography Competition is taking place on Tuesday, 20 March from 1-2pm.

The winners that you’ve been voting for will be revealed and awarded prizes by Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor John Fletcher.

Come along to the Atrium Art Gallery to see all the photographs in person and find out about the fascinating research behind each one, undertaken by our academics, students across all levels and professional services.

The exhibition is open to all and free to attend so please do come along with colleagues and friends. Nibbles and refreshments will be provided.

Click here to register to attend.

If you’re unable to join us today, the exhibition will be open from 20 March – 29 March (weekdays only) from 10am – 6pm.

Don’t miss out!

 

Deadline Approaching – 2018 BU PhD Studentship Competition – Round 2

Call for submission of a further 18 matched funded Postgraduate Research Projects for the 2018 BU PhD Studentship Competition is closing soon.

Academic staff are invited to submit proposals for matched funded studentship projects which, if successful, will be advertised to recruit PhD candidates for a September 2018 start.

Full details can be found on the Doctoral College Staff Intranet where the following information can be found:

Submission Deadline:

Applications should be submitted on the Studentship Proposal Form to the Doctoral College via email to phdstudentshipcompetition@bournemouth.ac.uk no later than 5pm on Monday 26 March 2018.

The Doctoral College will manage the recruitment process along the following timetable:

Date Action
February 2018 Launch PhD Studentships Internal Competition – development of proposals
26 March 2018 Closing date for submission of proposals
w/c 2 April 2018 Faculty panel meetings to rank projects
w/c 16 April 2018 Central panel meeting to allocate funding
14 May 2018 Launch PhD Studentships External Competition – recruitment of candidates
30 June 2018 Closing date for External Competition
September 2018 Successful Candidates start