Category / Fusion themes

New BU publication disability & pregnancy

Two days ago the Open Access journal BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth published an important article on women with disabilities and their experiences with the maternity services when pregnant [1].  The new paper Dignity and respect during pregnancy and childbirth: a survey of the experience of disabled women’ has been co-authored by BU’s Dr. Jenny Hall (Centre for Excellence in Learning/CEL) and Prof. Vanora Hundley (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health/CMMPH) in collaboration with Dr. Bethan Collins (formerly of BU and now based at the University of Liverpool) and BU Visiting Faculty Jillian Ireland (Poole NHS Foundation Trust). The project was partially funded by the charity Birthrights and Bournemouth University.

Women’s experiences of dignity and respect in childbirth revealed that a significant proportion of women felt their rights were poorly respected and that they were treated less favourably because of their disability. The authors argue that this suggests that there is a need to look more closely at individualised care. It was also evident that more consideration is required to improve attitudes of maternity care providers to disability and services need to adapt to provide reasonable adjustments to accommodate disability, including improving continuity of carer.

 

Congratulations!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

 

Reference:

  1. Jenny Hall, Vanora Hundley, Bethan Collins & Jillian Ireland (2018) Dignity and respect during pregnancy and childbirth: a survey of the experience of disabled women, BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 18:328

Tackling global disasters to reduce risks, build resilience and ensure recovery

Disasters and crises can involve human, material, economic and environmental loss, whether natural or as a result of human activity. Their impacts can exceed the ability of the affected community to cope through their own resources; however, they can be reduced, or possibly even prevented, with the appropriate risk management and the right guidance and training.

When BU’s Disaster Management Centre (BUDMC) was first established in 2001, it was a small operation, led by Richard Gordon, Director of BUDMC, who grew the centre by concentrating its work overseas instead of emulating similar organisations who were focusing on the UK post 9/11. From the start, BUDMC focused on delivering executive disaster management training to senior government ministers and their representatives, including key military appointments and overseas delegations.

“The earliest project we worked on was an EU initiative that looked at ways to bring together the new nation states that emerged from the former Yugoslavia in such a way that they could incorporate crisis and disaster management,” says Richard. “The project broke down so many barriers. On day one, they were focused on local concerns, but by day two, they were learning to work together – and it was the most beautiful thing to see.”

Over the next decade, the Centre gradually built up its reach and reputation in training and enterprise. By 2015 the team was regularly delivering executive training sessions in 12 nations annually, both abroad and in the UK. Since 2015, Professor Lee Miles and Dr Henry Bang have joined BUDMC, with the aim of widening the Centre’s research capacity in disaster management.

“When I joined in 2015, BUDMC was already carrying out some fantastic work in terms of its training and education. We now had the opportunity to also increase its research activity,” explains Professor Miles. “One of the distinctive features of the Centre is that we carry out quite a lot of research before delivering a training course; this is then fed into the course and subsequently built into the crisis simulations. It is a very practical example of research led professional practice and the practical impact of research ideas. It represents fusion in practice.”

Today, all of the Centre’s projects now seek to combine effective enterprise delivery with innovative research which means BUDMC staff work closely together to produce world class activity of international excellence. The combination of research with training allows the Centre to contribute innovative and fresh ideas which are helping to assist policy makers and professionals in crisis and disaster management across the world.

One of BUDMC’s most recent projects – the PINPOINT programme – identifies single points of failure in disaster management in the Caribbean.

“We’ve just completed the first phase of the PINPOINT programme,” says Professor Miles. “This project, which is led by Richard and I, has been looking at the British Virgin Islands in particular. They have recently faced huge challenges, following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which caused extensive damage to the British Virgin Islands with homes, businesses and roads destroyed and communities left with no power, sanitation or water.”

BUDMC carried out two major research data collections, both just before and after Hurricane Irma, to identify the actual vulnerabilities and offer an accurate snapshot of the British Virgin Islands (BVI) and in particular the specific single points of failure across the respective territories of the BVI prior to and after Irma and Maria. This research showed that there are real differences between the islands and that overall there were major issues, such as with communication networks, and reliance of key institutions and individuals, that would severely affect their responses to major hurricanes.

Professor Miles reported on this PINPOINT research in national and international press, such as the BBC News Channel, Good Morning Britain (ITV), CNN International and BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme. Moreover, the research has also fed into media training to statutory bodies and media professionals in the Caribbean (April 2017) as well as into the reflections of the UK Government in the run-up to the 2018 Hurricane season.

“One of the Centre’s distinctive features is that it is recognised externally as having expertise in strategic thinking around disaster management,” explains Professor Miles, “This is important as it means that the research and recommendations that we develop within the BUDMC are being put into practice by professionals working in industry and in government, both home and abroad. It also means that we are able to gain feedback from those working in the field, which in turn, can help us to shape our future research to be as relevant as possible.”

The Centre is looking to continue to develop and widen its education provision into the future whilst also developing its research environment by expanding the numbers of recruited Masters and PhD students, both from overseas and in the UK. BUDMC’s world class provision and global recognition has attracted substantial interest from postgraduate candidates as well as visiting fellows from other countries; all keen to work alongside BUDMC staff in disaster management training and participate in BUDMC research projects.

“With around 14 years working outside of the UK, our work is becoming much more relevant now to the UK and indeed we as a nation will find ourselves learning from many of the countries where BUDMC has been operating over the years,” says Richard.

For more information, visit BUDMC’s webpage: http://budmc.uk/

This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.

From face blindness to super-recognisers: how research is changing lives

Around 1 in 50 people are thought to be affected by prosopagnosia or face blindness. The condition can have a significant effect on people’s personal and professional lives, but has only relatively recently begun to gain public attention. Bournemouth University’s Dr Sarah Bate has spent much of her career researching people affected by the condition, and more recently those at the other end of the spectrum: so-called ‘super-recognisers’.

Prosopagnosia affects people’s ability to recognise even the most familiar of faces. People are largely born with the condition, although in rare cases they may develop it in later life, following a head injury or illness. Until recently, it was thought that only a small number of people had prosopagnosia, but research led by Dr Bate has proved otherwise.

“My interest in the area stemmed from my undergraduate studies at the University of Exeter, where I first heard about the condition,” says Dr Bate, “My lecturer was in touch with one person with prosopagnosia and offered me the chance to work with that person for my final year project. It was a unique opportunity at the time, as not many people were thought to have prosopagnosia.”

“I continued researching face blindness for both my Master’s and PhD studies, but still with quite a limited pool of people as the condition was believed to be rare. It wasn’t until I’d completed my PhD and moved to Bournemouth University (BU) to set up my own research lab that I discovered this was quite far from the truth!”

“Not long after I moved to BU, my research gained considerable media coverage, which was probably one of the first times that face blindness had gained much public attention. It also coincided with people beginning to rely more on using the internet to better understand their symptoms. The combination of the two meant that suddenly I was being approached by thousands of people who thought they had the condition,” explains Dr Bate.

At the time, very few GPs and medical staff knew about prosopagnosia, so for many people, talking to Dr Bate was the first time they’d been able to fully understand their symptoms. In due course, the increased need to acknowledge people’s symptoms, combined with Dr Bate’s extensive research into diagnosis of prosopagnosia led to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recognising it as an official health condition in 2014.

Since then, much of Dr Bate’s research has moved on to focused on how to diagnose the condition in children. The tests used to diagnose prosopagnosia in adults do not work particularly well with children, so Dr Bate’s team have developed new methods involving eye-tracking technology to help with diagnostics.

“The tests we use with adults aren’t very suitable for children, as they tend not to have the concentration needed to make them work,” says Dr Bate, “We use state-of-the-art eye tracking technology, which enables us to pinpoint which parts of the face children are looking at. This is important because our research shows that typical people tend to spend more       time looking at the eyes, whereas those with prosopagnosia look at other areas of the face.”

“The main aim of developing better diagnostic tools for children is so that we can improve early intervention treatments for them. As with many conditions, the earlier interventions can be made, the more likely they are to succeed,” continues Dr Bate, “It’s harder to treat adults, as many will have developed their own coping strategies and they don’t always want to try something new.”

At the other end of the spectrum are so-called ‘super-recognisers’, who have above average abilities when it comes to recognising faces. This is an area of research that Dr Bate has begun to explore more recently, in an attempt to understand if prosopagnosia is a developmental disorder or a sliding scale of ability.

“The idea was that if we have people who are at the bottom end of a normal range when it comes to facial recognition, then there must be people who are at the top range too,” explains Dr Bate, “We’ve developed research in this area, which is now beginning to help organisations such as the police and border control to identify which of their staff are best at recognising faces.”

“We found that different people are better at different aspects of facial recognition, so it’s not just about screening for the ‘best’ people. Computer software is a long way off being able to perform this function of policing and border control, so it was important for us to have rigorous research to back our theories.”

For more information about prosopagnosia and super-recognisers, visit the Centre for Face Processing Disorder’s web page: www.prosopagnosiaresearch.org

This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.

Understanding the origins of modern-day broadcasting

Over the last twenty-five years, Bournemouth University (BU) has built up a wealth of expertise in the area of media history. Not only has this knowledge helped to better understand the development of radio programmes of the time, but it is also helping to inform the teaching and education of future broadcasters.

Professor Hugh Chignell, Head of BU’s Centre for Media History, is a well-known media historian who specialises in radio broadcasting – covering both news and drama programmes. His research in the area began in the late 1990s when Bournemouth University began to host an archive of radio programmes produced by the BBC.

“At the time that we began hosting these archives, there were a number of researchers at BU who were keen to learn more about the history of radio and TV broadcasting. They felt it would be useful knowledge for our students, who would hopefully go on to produce future broadcast content,” explains Professor Chignell, “It was an approach to teaching pioneered by Bournemouth and became a really useful resource for our undergraduates, as it gave them a sense of where our contemporary radio and TV broadcasts come from. It’s also what sparked my own PhD research.”

For his doctoral research, Professor Chignell explored BBC Radio 4’s longstanding current affairs programme, Analysis. His research spanned a wide range of topics, including the political nature of current affairs programmes, the evolution of news and current affairs at the BBC and a better understanding of how to interpret old radio content.

“Current affairs programmes are reasonably unique to British media culture,” says Professor Chignell, “The BBC chose to keep its news broadcasts purely factual, in order to maintain their impartiality, but its current affairs programmes were very different. Their focus on explaining the context of the news and what was going on around it made them quite political.”

“For example, the Analysis programmes of the 1980s were partially responsible for introducing listeners to the neoliberal policies and ideas of Margaret Thatcher’s government. Although the programme itself didn’t have a political agenda, its role in making policies more accessible did end up giving it a political stance.”

Through his research, Professor Chignell also developed a better understanding of how to listen to and interpret old radio programmes, as outside of their temporal context, some broadcasts can be difficult to fully appreciate. Often their creators and producers are no longer around to ask questions of, which means that understanding the context in which they were made, can be a challenge.

“Older radio programmes can sound quite strange to us now. It’s not the same experience as watching an old Hollywood film, for example,” explains Professor Chignell, “My current research interests are around radio dramas of the 1950s. To fully appreciate them, an understanding of 1950s theatre is needed, as radio productions were heavily influenced by trends in the theatre. For that era in particular, French theatre dramas were extremely influential.”

“The first step for any media historian is to understand the context – what happened, the programmes that were made and what was said. Only then can you move onto the analysis, which enables us in the present to learn from the past. By exploring older radio dramas, for example, you can gain quite a fascinating insight into the culture of the time, often in quite a surreal way.”

“Not only does it give us a window into the past, but it can help to spark ideas for the creation of new programmes and broadcasts.”

Bournemouth University’s Centre for Media History was established in 1998 and compromises over 20 academics and post-graduate researchers from across the university. While it takes its origins from an interest in radio history, the Centre now specialises in media history across all forms of broadcast media.

For more information, see:

www.bournemouth.ac.uk/cmh

This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.

The effects of emotional processing on physical health

Almost every day, we face and overcome any number of small stresses and difficulties which mostly have no effect on our overall wellbeing. However, every now and again we experience life-changing events, a serious illness, the death of a parent or the breakdown of a relationship, all of which can be extremely difficult to deal with. Research carried out at Bournemouth University suggests that not only can these events affect our mental health, but they can also have consequences for our physical health.

The link first began to emerge in the early 1980s, when Professor Roger Baker and a team of other clinical psychologists were exploring how best to treat people experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks were a relatively unknown condition at the time and were only just beginning to be distinguished from generalised anxiety disorders. One of the first stages of the research was to start to understand what was causing them.

“Panic attacks are a very sudden physical event, which can be quite overwhelming and distressing for the people experiencing them. Your heart might start beating faster, you might feel dizzy and experience breathing difficulties. The symptoms can feel quite similar to a heart attack; around
25% of people taken to hospital apparently experiencing cardiac arrest symptoms are actually having a panic attack,” says Professor Baker, “Through interviewing people who had suddenly started having panic attacks, I began to see that there might be a connection between their physical symptoms and earlier traumatic events.”

“Although they often described their lives as going well, many had experienced difficult or stressful life events in the run up to the start of their panic attacks. This could be anything from the death of a friend to the loss of a job or a divorce. People often spoke about their emotions in terms of suppression, which was supported by a further large-scale study in the area – panic attack patients were clearly supressing their emotions and focusing on somatic sensations rather than understanding the emotional connection with stressful events.”

Over the course of several years and a number of different studies, Professor Baker and other research colleagues explored the link between emotion suppression and a multitude of different medical conditions. Repeatedly there was shown to be a strong connection between problems with processing emotions and a number of psychological conditions and even physical illnesses.

“It became apparent to me that what was needed was a psychological scale, which would help clinical practitioners to identify potential problems with emotional processing,” says Professor
Baker, “However, in order to create such a scale, a large amount of data needed to be collected.”

The creation of the final published scale took decades worth of work to finalise which factors should be taken into account and to establish a range of norms against which to benchmark people’s emotional processing skills. During that time, the emotional processing scale went through a number of different iterations and was tested in a wide range of research studies.

“One such study, conducted by Dr Carol Wilkins at BU, explored the link between the likelihood of developing postpartum depression and emotional processing,” says Professor Baker, “By using the emotional processing scale, the research was able to show that if women’s emotional processing skills were problematic during pregnancy, then they were more likely to develop depression after giving birth. It was a very clear indication of the link between emotions and mental health.”

After decades of work on the subject, the final emotional processing scale was published in 2015, and much of Professor Baker’s time is now dedicated to sharing it more widely with clinical practitioners to increase its use in research and in all types of therapy.

“The idea that emotional processing can have an effect on both our mental and physical health is still yet to become a mainstream idea within counselling and the medical professions. At the moment, there’s still quite a focus on the medical model of treating people, but in time, I hope that this will begin to change,” says Professor Baker.

For more information about the work of Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU), please visit:
www.bournemouth.ac.uk/bucru

This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.

Brexit: champagne, parmesan, prosecco and feta could soon be at the centre of negotiations

As Brexit day creeps closer, one issue that remains unresolved is the way that food names will be protected in Britain and the EU. From parmesan and feta to cornish pasties and Bavarian beer, the EU is fiercely protective over protected designations of origin (PDOs) or protected geographical indications (PGIs).

A number of highly popular products are protected under this legal framework that dictates certain products can only be produced in certain regions. So champagne must be produced in the Champagne region of France and prosecco in a small pocket of north-eastern Italy. These are products with big market shares in the UK, with consumer loyalty being built up and consolidated through the use of these reputable geographical names.

The issue is also important to the UK. Many British products are also protected under the EU regime. It helps protect both their quality and value.

Accept no imitations.
Shutterstock

But when the UK leaves the EU, it will no longer be under the laws that govern the protective status of these products. The government’s recently launched white paper, which outlined the UK’s plans for Brexit, declares that Britain will set up its own protection of geographical names to provide for continuous protection of UK products within the UK. But it doesn’t mention any continuation of the EU’s protection scheme.

Some in Brussels have expressed fear that British producers will start exploiting previously protected European names. Yet, rather ironically, British products would not lose their status in the EU (and could still seek new EU registrations in the future), since the EU allows for the protection of geographical names from non-EU countries. It’s an imbalance which seems to please British negotiators.

So, the European Commission fears that after Brexit the high level of protection that European products currently enjoy in the UK under EU law may evaporate. The white paper proposal rather contrasts with the commission’s proposal, which suggests that the UK continue protecting geographical indications, as it does under the EU.

US interference

But the EU’s desire that post-Brexit Britain keep its protection of geographical indications is bound to collide with US strategic interests. The US position is an important factor to take into account in the Brexit negotiations. If the UK signs a trade deal with the US, it will likely clash with a lot of EU regulations – including provisions governing the use of geographical names for food and beverages.

The US plays by different rules when it comes to the protection of these names. There are numerous US food companies that freely use European geographical expressions (including parmesan and feta for cheese) to identify products that have not been produced in the relevant European locations. In the US, these are considered to be generic names that describe the products and cannot be monopolised by anyone, not even by the producers coming from the relevant European geographical area.

Is it feta or ‘Greek-style cheese’?
Shutterstock

That is why the US is lobbying the UK to abandon the EU’s protection of geographical indications, namely to allow US food and beverage companies to enter the British market by freely using European names. A US-UK trade deal would likely be contingent on the UK dropping the EU-level protection of geographical indications. But this, in turn, would scupper the prospects of a trade deal with the EU – an even bigger trading partner for the UK.

Sticking point

The EU has continuously placed great emphasis on the protection of its geographical names during trade negotiations. It proved to be a big sticking point in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations. France and Greece, for example, threatened to veto a deal with the US unless it upheld their geographical indications. More recently, Italy’s minister for agriculture noted that Italy may not ratify the EU’s trade deal with Canada because, in his view, it does not adequately protect Italian geographical names.

The ConversationIt is therefore not a stretch to say that the entire Brexit deal could hinge on the issue of geographical indications. There is no doubt that providing a level of protection in the UK which is comparable to the current EU scheme – for example, via a mutual EU/UK recognition scheme – would facilitate an agreement not only on the specific issue of geographical names, but also of the entire Brexit deal. This would, however, make favourable trade agreements between the UK and the US less likely. The battle over geographical indications will surely go on.

Enrico Bonadio, Senior Lecturer in Law, City, University of London and Marc Mimler, Lecturer in Law, Bournemouth University

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

Social Work, Precarity & Sacrifice as Radical Action for Hope

Congratulations to Professor Jonathan Parker on the publication of his latest article in the International Journal of Social Work & Human Services Practice. [1]   In this paper Professor Parker outlines the history and development of social work, primarily in the UK, in the context of uncertainty and ambiguity.  He suggests that in an age of increased precariousness, social work itself represents a precarious activity that can be misconstrued and used for political ends as well as for positive change. As a means of countering potentially deleterious consequences arising from this, the concept of sacrifice which is used to consider social work’s societal role as scapegoat on the one hand and champion of the oppressed on the other. The paper concludes that social work’s potential for developing and encouraging resilience and hope is indicated in the ‘sacrifices’ social workers make when walking alongside marginalised and disadvantaged people.

The paper is Open Access, meaning that anybody across the globe with internet access will be able to read it  free of cost.

 

Reference:

  1. Parker, J. ‘Social Work, Precarity and Sacrifice as Radical Action for Hope’, International Journal of Social Work and Human Services Practice Vol.6. No.2, 2018, pp. 46-55.

BU Professor Gives Keynote in Japan

Professor Jonathan Parker was invited to present the keynote address to the Japanese Association of Social Workers conference in Okayama in July. The conference brought together Ministry of Welfare officials, key social work professional organisations and academics from every university in Japan to discuss growing professionalisation in social work in Japan and the Asia Pacific region.

Professor Parker was invited because of his long-standing association with social work in Japan resulting from translations of his best-selling books Social Work Practiceand Effective Practice Learning in Social Work, which have been consistently used in Japanese social work education over the last decade. He has also undertaken research and published with Professor Tadakazu Kumagai of Kawasaki University of Medical Welfare who was also a BU visiting professor.

Professor Parker’s keynote address warned of the ‘two-edged sword’ of professionalism and the dangers of recognition by the state, which restrict social workers’ role in resisting government prescriptions for the social control of individuals, families and groups without promoting a concomitant emphasis on human rights and social justice. Using psychoanalytic concepts, he argued that social work is an ambivalent entity in the minds of the general public and government and liable to be hated and blamed when tragedies occur whilst loved and required in times of need. Accepting this ambivalence, social workers need to take forward their resistance agenda by walking alongside those who are ostracised and marginalised.

The keynote was well received and has led to potential developments in UK-Japan funded research.

VISTA AR – Interreg have released promotional video about the people behind their projects

Bournemouth University as a partner is involved in Interreg project “Visitor experience Innovation through Systematic Text Analytics and Augmented Reality” (VISTA AR).

The project deals with development and implementation of a range of exciting augmented reality and virtual reality experiences for a number of tourist attractions in the South of England and the North of France.

The Vista AR project is featured in a promotional video of Interreg. In the video Prof Andi Smart (project PI, University of Exeter) introduces the project.

You can watch the video on-line here.

 

New BU migrants’ health publication

The Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (Springer) just accepted the latest paper by former FHSS Ph.D. student Dr. Pratik Adhikary (photo). [1]  His latest paper ‘Workplace accidents among Nepali male workers in the Middle East and Malaysia: A qualitative study’ is the fourth, and probably final, paper from his Bournemouth University Ph.D. thesis.  This latest paper is based on the qualitative part of the mixed-methods thesis, his previous papers focused more on the quantitative data. [2-4] 

Since this is a qualitative paper it also offers a more theoretical underpinning than the previous papers.  The work uses the dual labour market theory which associates labour migration specifically to the host economy as it explains migration from the demand side. Labour migrants from less developed economies travel to fill the unskilled and low-skill jobs as guest workers in more developed economies to do the jobs better trained and paid local workers do not want to do.  This theory also explains the active recruitment through labour agents in Nepal to help fulfil the demand for labour abroad, and it helps explain some of the exploitation highlighted in host countries. The theory also helps explain why lowly skilled migrant workers are often at a higher risk to their health than native workers . Similar to migrant workers from around the world, Nepali migrant workers also experience serious health and safety problems in the host countries including accidents and injuries.

The latest article will be Open Access in the Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health!

 

References:

  1. Adhikary P, van Teijlingen E., Keen S. (2018) Workplace accidents among Nepali male workers in the Middle East and Malaysia: A qualitative study, Journal of Immigrant and Minority Health (First Online), https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10903-018-0801-y
  2. Adhikary P., Keen S., van Teijlingen, E. (2011) Health Issues among Nepalese migrant workers in Middle East. Health Science Journal 5: 169-175. www.hsj.gr/volume5/issue3/532.pdf
  3. Adhikary, P., Sheppard, Z., Keen, S., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Risky work: Accidents among Nepalese migrant workers in Malaysia, Qatar and Saudi, Health Prospect 16(2): 3-10.
  4. Adhikary P, Sheppard, Z., Keen S., van Teijlingen E. (2018) Health and well-being of Nepalese migrant workers abroad, International Journal of Migration, Health & Social Care 14(1): 96-105. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-12-2015-0052

Re-thinking the Profession of Project Management for Sustainability

Project management contributes trillions to the global economy; driving business innovation and converting politicians’ promises into new systems and constructions that are intended to improve everyday life.

Sustainable development is a global priority and yet sustainability and project management do not sit comfortably together.  There is tension between the long-term focus of sustainable development and the inherent pressure on projects to deliver against short-term measures of success.  Furthermore, projects regularly fail.  For example, Meier (2017) suggest 71% of projects in 2015 failed or were challenged.  The financial, social and environmental costs of wasted resources and lost opportunities each year are also measured in trillions across the globe.

The UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals

Dr Karen Thompson and Dr Nigel Williams, both from the Department of Leadership, Strategy and Organisations, recognise that principles of responsible management and sustainability must be effectively incorporated into project management research and practice.  Without responsible project management, projects are likely to hasten degradation of the environment and increase tensions in society.  As a growing population competes for scarce resources, human conflict across the globe is likely to worsen.  Responsible management of projects is therefore globally significant.

An international, cross-disciplinary workshop to think about Responsible Project Management was recently hosted by Nigel and Karen at BU.  One focus was the project manager competencies because Wheatley (2018), among others, argues that enhanced project management capabilities would increase the beneficial impact of projects.  A central premise to emerge was that managing projects responsibly will require project managers to go beyond delivering defined results for specific customers to managing the impact of their activities on society and the environment.

The workshop brought together leading academics and practitioners to begin exploring the concept of Responsible Project Management, with a particular focus on what competencies project managers require to think and act responsibly.  An amazing 43 people engaged with us over two and a half days.  Feedback collected formally and informally was incredibly positive.  One outcome is recognition that the role of a project manager need to shift from a functional role, to leading and facilitating sustainable change.

Steve Knightley

The event began with a relaxed and informal afternoon with Steve Knightley, multi-award-winning musician/song writer, who shared his journey of creating a sustainable business.  The following day, BU’s Deputy Vice Chancellor, Professor Tim McIntyre-Bhatty, welcomed participants and shared his vision of the future, including BU2025.  Other participants from BU included the Head of BU’s Programme Management Office, Jackie Pryce; BU project managers; and Sustainability Manager, Neil Smith.  Colleagues Dr Mehdi Chowdhury, Senior Lecturer in Economics, Tilak Ginige and Dr Sulaf Assi, both from the Faculty of Science and Technology, and several BU students contributed presentations and stimulated discussion.

External participants included Professor Darren Dalcher, Director of the National Centre for Project Management; Professor Andrew Edkins, Director of the Bartlett Real Estate Institute and Professor of the Management of Complex Projects; Professor Gilbert Silvius, thought leader and author on sustainable PM from the Netherlands, and other UK academics.  Representatives from two professional bodies – the Association for Project Management (UK) and the Project Management Institute (USA) – reflected a range of practitioner perspectives; Arup Director Rob Leslie-Carter joined us via Skype, and Rowan Maltby, Project Consultant at Pcubed participated.  Sustainability thinking was used to provoke discussion and challenge norms, led by a Director of the Association of Sustainability Practitioners, Gwyn Jones.  We discussed B-corps, a new type of business organisation where the aim is to deliver value to stakeholders without preference.  Unlike not-for-profit organisations, B-corps recognise the importance of profit, because without profit a business is not sustainable.  Organisation and governance of B-corps reflect a need for stewardship of resources and impacts across a wide range of stakeholders, including the environment, users of outputs, staff, suppliers, and the wider community.

The workshop generated ideas about making project management a profession that goes beyond a technical function delivering outcomes defined by others.  We suggested a range of competences and understandings project managers will require if projects are to be managed responsibly in the future, such as dealing with uncertainty, ethical complexity, and better anticipation and mitigation of damaging unintended consequences.  Workshop outputs included ideas for research bidding, writing papers, learning, teaching and module content.  Already we are collaborating on a guide for project practitioners to begin sharing the ideas with national and international audiences.

References

Meier, S.R. 2017. Technology Portfolio Management for Project Managers. Available online: https://www.pmiwdc.org/sites/default/files/presentations/201703/PMIW_LocalCommunity_Tysons_presentation_2017-02.pdf [Accessed 7 July 2018]

Silvius, A.J.G. 2017. Sustainability as a new school of thought in project management.  Journal of Cleaner Production. Vol. 166. Pages 1479-1493

Wheatley, M. 2018.  The Importance of Project Management.  ProjectSmart. Available online: https://www.projectsmart.co.uk/the-importance-of-project-management.php [Accessed 8 July 2018]

Come and be a part of cutting edge Spine Biomechanics Research!

Research participants needed! 

The Centre for Biomechanics Research (located at the AECC University College, Parkwood Campus) is currently conducting a study investigating low back joint motion patterns in pain free adults. This study has National Research Ethical approval and aims to establish normal spine motion, which will support future investigations into low back pain and its possible treatments.

To collect the required data, pain free volunteers between 30 and 70 years of age are needed who are willing to have their low backs scanned with a method called ‘Quantitative Fluoroscopy’. This will take place in the AECC University College Chiropractic Clinic and takes no more than 1 hour.

Taking part in this study means that you are helping to advance science which will benefit many patients in the future. Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity for healthcare students and staff to learn more about this emerging technology.

Please contact us at cbrstudies@aecc.ac.uk if you are interested in taking part and we will send you more information about this study. We are looking for approximately 100 more volunteers, so we’d like to encourage you to spread this information to family and friends who can also be welcomed as participants.

 

Kind regards

Alan Breen (Professor of Musculoskeletal Research)
Alex Breen (Post-Doc and Technology Lead)
Emilie Claerbout (Bournemouth University Student)

 

Plastic pollution: could we clean up the ocean with technology?

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Rick Stafford, Bournemouth University

Our oceans are threatened by three major challenges: climate change, overfishing and pollution. Plastic pollution is of growing concern, and has gained international attention from governments, media and large sections of the public, partly fuelled by last year’s BBC documentary Blue Planet II and its images of sperm whales and seabirds entangled or ingesting plastic debris.

Despite the attention plastic pollution has received, some scientists think this is the least important of the major marine threats, and that climate change and fisheries need more urgent attention.

This is not to say that plastic is not a major issue – it is, especially in some parts of the developing world, and in large open ocean gyre systems where ocean currents meet and all that they carry accumulates. Research has also found that microplastics (small fragments which form as larger plastic pieces are broken down in the sea) are found in seafood, and plastic may even accumulate as it passes up the foodchain.

The Ocean Cleanup

One reason why plastic pollution seems to get more attention than other threats to the ocean is that the issue may have a technological “fix”. The Ocean Cleanup is the flagship tech solution to marine plastic and proposes using several 600-metre long barriers to float in the ocean current and catch plastic drifting in the surface waters of the gyres.

Invented by a then 19-year-old student, the idea has come in for criticism in recent years with concerns ranging from the project’s ability to reach microplastics to it causing harm to wildlife.

Nevertheless, the Ocean Cleanup has captured imaginations by trying to reverse the problem of ocean plastic on a large scale.

We’re familiar with the idea that we can all do something to prevent plastic ending up in the sea, such as refusing plastic straws and carrying a refillable water bottle. However, while we need to use less, we also need to produce less, and throw away less of it. This means not only individual behaviour change, but changes in industrial processes, and government policies worldwide.

The visual impact of plastic pollution and high levels of public interest might be fundamental to some solutions. In many countries, local beach cleans are a regular occurrence, and are rapidly gaining in popularity. It has also been suggested that despite plastic hotspots in ocean gyres, eventually, many large plastic items will wash up on beaches, and that a significant proportion of plastic waste ending up in the sea comes from coastal or riverside communities.

Most plastic enters the ocean from the shore and accumulates in ocean ‘gyres’, where different currents meet.
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Think global, act local

This provides hope for community networks to be formed that can combat plastic pollution at a local level. These networks need to expand beyond beach or river clean-ups to involve and engage multiple groups and individuals in society.

These stakeholders, who have a shared interest in healthy oceans, should include local retailers who can provide deposit return schemes on bottles and other recyclable materials and even reduce or eliminate the sale of products such as plastic straws, disposable coffee cups, plastic bags and takeaway containers.

Local councils could set up rubbish and recycling facilities for beach goers and enforce penalties for littering and fly tipping near beaches and rivers.

Communities in charge of managing their local environment have been shown to be effective in coastal areas, but issues always arise with the scaling-up of these approaches to national or international levels.

There is clearly a need for policies which support local initiatives, rather than combat them. For example, government policies should immediately call for bans on non-essential plastic packaging rather than “working to a target of eliminating avoidable plastic waste by the end of 2042” as the UK’s 25 year environmental plan currently indicates.

Beach cleanup events can engage communities in halting the flow of plastic into the ocean.
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Remaining non-essential packaging should urgently be made recyclable, and recycling incentive schemes, such as payment for recycling, need to be introduced quickly, beyond the approaches used by local retailers.

Technological solutions can and should form part of our approach to environmental problems, whether plastic pollution or climate change. However, they can only be part of a solution.

Schemes which change attitudes and empower communities at a local level can be effective worldwide, but they need support from national and international policies to bring about real change. At present, pollution and natural resources are dismissed as necessary casualties in the pursuit of economic growth.

The ConversationSupport for seaside communities in policy is missing, and until it is in place, no high tech miracle will step in to save us.

Rick Stafford, Professor of Marine Biology and Conservation, Bournemouth University

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

Can a scientific name save one of Earth’s most iconic freshwater fish from extinction?

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The iconic hump-backed mahseer.
J. Bailey, Author provided

The mahseers are an iconic group of fish found throughout the fast-flowing rivers of South and South-East Asia. Characterised by their large scales, attractive appearance and potentially vast size, the mahseers have long been afforded saintly status as “God’s fishes”. They are also known to anglers as some of the world’s hardest fighting freshwater game fish, earning them the reputation of “tigers of the water”.

But despite lots of interest in mahseers, their future is under serious threat as their rivers become polluted and blocked by hydropower dams in order to support a rapidly growing human population. Those fish that do survive are vulnerable to illegal “dynamite fishing” in which a blast kills or injures all aquatic life, allowing poachers to harvest anything that floats to the surface.

Of the 18 currently valid species of mahseer, the official IUCN Red List of Threatened Species currently lists four as endangered, one as vulnerable, and one as near threatened. The rest either lack enough data to reach a conclusion or haven’t been evaluated.

Recent research published by colleagues and I in PLOS ONE focused on the hump-backed mahseer, the largest and most endangered of all mahseers. The fish was once common throughout the Cauvery river and its various tributaries in southern India, but it is now limited to just a handful of small isolated populations. Weighing as much as a small adult human (55kg), this freshwater giant qualifies as megafauna, yet bizarrely it has remained a taxonomic enigma without a valid scientific name.

The Cauvery and its tributaries flow through the states of Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Central Ground Water Board, India

Until now. Colleagues and I discovered that the hump-backed mahseer is actually the same species as Tor remadevii: a mahseer that previously lacked a common name. Scientists first described Tor remadevii as a new species in 2007, based on a small sample of juvenile fish from the most southerly tributary of the Cauvery catchment in the state of Kerala. Little did they realise that the small fish they had discovered from this remote sub-catchment was the same as the monster mahseer found in the upper and middle reaches of the main river Cauvery.

The rise and fall of a freshwater icon

The hump-backed mahseer was first brought to the attention of the world’s anglers in Henry Sullivan Thomas’s 1873 classic, The Rod in India. During British rule, several huge specimens were recorded, including the still-standing world rod-caught record, a 120lb (54kg) monster captured in 1946 by a taxidermist from Mysore known as de Wet Van Ingen. Indian independence followed soon after, and the mahseer was largely forgotten by the outside world, with many believing the fish had been dynamited to extinction.

Although larger fish have been reported, this catch by de Wet Van Ingen still stands as the official world record.

That was until 1977, when the Trans World Fishing Team – comprised of three Englishmen –travelled to India and spent several months exploring the country’s rivers before reaching the Cauvery. There they found the hump-backed mahseer very much alive, and realised their sporting dreams by recording individual catches up to 92lbs (42kg).

This reignited global interest, and catch-and-release anglers from around the world flocked to the River Cauvery in search of the legendary fish. Local villagers found employment as angling guides, cooks or drivers, some of them rehabilitated poachers who realised that a live mahseer had renewable value, unlike the single value of a dead one at market. Patrols were set up to protect the species 24/7, allowing the ecology of the river to flourish.

Martin Clark of the Trans World Fishing Team with one of the fish caught in 1978.
Trans World Fishing Team, Author provided

But all was not what it seemed. Since their establishment in the 1970s, the angling camps had been collecting invaluable data which shed new light on the situation. When colleagues and I analysed these detailed catch records, we realised the hump-backed mahseer had almost disappeared. Although overall mahseer stocks were rising, the humpback itself was being rapidly replaced by a non-native and highly invasive species of mahseer, which had been deliberately introduced to the River Cauvery to boost stocks in the late 1970s. This led us to publish a paper in 2015, outlining the threat of imminent extinction facing the hump-backed mahseer.

So, what’s in a name?

The hump-backed mahseer has been known around the world by its common name, but confusion over its scientific name has prevented its inclusion in the IUCN Red List of threatened species. Given the fish is on the edge of extinction, it proved a significant challenge finding wild specimens from which to collect the DNA and associated evidence required to support a formal taxonomic clarification. Only after three years of expeditions was our team finally successful in finding a small population of humpbacks in a remote jungle section of the River Moyar, a tributary of the Cauvery.

The paper we recently published fixes the scientific name as Tor remadevii and should see the iconic species assessed as “critically endangered” in the next update of the Red List. The significance of the research published will afford this iconic fish the recognition and legislative protection it so urgently requires to develop robust conservation planning.

The ConversationHowever, in the long term, the fish’s future rests in the hands of the three Indian states with stakes in the highly-contested Cauvery river system – Tamil Nadu, Kerala, and Karnataka. One hope is that the humpback mahseer will become a unifying force and bring these states together to protect the rich biodiversity and natural function of the Cauvery from further decay, allowing the river to continue to support the many millions of people who depend on it.

Adrian Pinder, Associate Director, Bournemouth University

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