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Socnet Conference at HSC

Erasmus Social Work International Week at the Centre for Social Work, Sociology & Social Policy, HSC

 The Erasmus SOCNET International Social Work Week, which runs every April from the 15th to the 19th  of the month,  is a multi-site annual event held at host European universities drawn from across the 19 HEI members of the SOCNET network  on a 3-year rota.  This very popular event brings together a diverse range of European academics and students with an interest in social work and welfare to participate in a packed week of educational, cultural and social events.

 This year, and for the first time, it was BU’s turn to host this prestigious event held jointly by HSC staff and students from the BA and MA Social Work programmes and BA Sociology & Social Policy.  HSC welcomed academics and accompanying students from Germany, Norway, Denmark, Austria, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands for a very busy educational week, which received highly enthusiastic evaluations from participants.

 The chosen theme of this year’s SOCNET conference at BU was  ‘Diversity and the processes of marginalization and otherness: giving voices to hidden themes’.  The event was opened by Vice Chancellor, Professor John Vinney, followed by a keynote lecture from Professor Jonathan Parker. Professor Gail Thomas, Dean of the School of Health & Social Care, was guest of honour at the lecturers’ Welcome Dinner held at the Print Room Restaurant, Bournemouth – the first of a number of lively social events held that week. Members of the organizing committee on the staff side included Jill Davey, Jonathan Parker, Sara Crabtree, Richard Williams and Chris Willetts, all of whom were also involved in delivery of presentations ranging from problematising anti-oppressive social work practice to a comparative South Africa/UK study of kinship care to Islamophobia in Europe.  HSC PhD student and Associate Lecturer, David Galley, gave an important lecture on the historical context of migration and its influence on welfare. Social Work students Michelle Lillywhite, David Oppong and Ralph Daniel, and Sociology & Social Policy students Abby Jeffery, Heidi Crew, Luana Silliton and Samineh Hall were instrumental in organizing student events, together with delivery of their own student-led thematic workshops. Finally, invaluable administrative management was provided by HSC’s efficient Administrator, Karen Long. 

 Above all, however, the importance of the SOCNET International Week lies in the ability to sustain the continuation and expansion of a dynamic community of international scholars and educators. Drawn from across the interconnecting disciplines of social work, law and social policy these academics are actively committed to promoting a participatory and internationalised student-focused curriculum on the diverse features of European social work and welfare. The peer collegiality of the event embraces an ever-changing body of students as peer-learners and equal participants in developing specific conference themes, and assisting to develop the sustainability of the network. This in turn generates further engagement through student/staff exchanges and research collaboration.

 To further promote these excellent goals, selected chapters generated from the best of the workshops at BU will be developed into an edited volume entitled Diversity and the Processes of Marginalisation: Reflections on Social Work in Europe, under the editorship of Sara (Ashencaen) Crabtree and Jill Davey (Whiting & Birch publishers). This collection follows from last year’s initiative to produce the first SOCNET volume entitled Active Ageing? Perspectives from Europe on a vaunted topic, under editors María Lusia Gómez Jiménez, University of Malaga, and Jonathan Parker, BU.

Grappling with the meaning of theory

Theoretical awareness is essential in the development and delivery of effective interprofessional education and collaborative practice. IN-2-THEORY – interprofessional theory, scholarship and collaboration, chaired by Sarah Hean from Bournemouth University is an international community of practice that aims to build theoretical rigour in this field.

IN-2-THEORY members Carol John (AECC, UK), Liz Anderson (University of Leicester, UK), Chris Green (University of Essex, UK), Cath O’Halloran (University of Huddersfield, UK), Richard Pitt (University of Nottingham, UK), Phil Clark (University of Rhode Island, USA) and Sarah Hean (Bournemouth University, UK) are currently working on a Best Evidence in Medical Education review into the effectiveness of Theory in Interprofessional Education. The protocol is available at 
Any critique welcome.

Finding (and defining) Friendly in New York City

‘Dementia Friendly’ is a sound bite used frequently at the moment in my field. This is in part due to the Prime Ministers 2012 Dementia Challenge which has a particular component aspiring to the creation of 20 dementia friendly towns/cities by 2015. But what does dementia friendly actually mean? and how do we know when we have an example of something that is dementia friendly? A colleague and I spent a week in New York City earlier this month and we were truly ‘wowed’ by the dementia friendly initiatives we witnessed. The first was at MOMA where they have an established programme for people with dementia that we were lucky enough to be able to join one afternoon. What made this programme dementia friendly? Three things in my view; first the educators (their term) made no attempt to ‘dumb down’ their offering to those with dementia (too often people with dementia are treated as less able without first having tested the waters to see if  just because the label of ‘dementia’ applied means that the person is unable to participate in various everyday activites ‘as usual’ or if it needs modified in some way, in this case participating in an arts appreciation programme). Two it was extremely difficult to tell who might have dementia and who were the accompanying family members and finally the contributions from the group reflected the individual perspective different people have on what is ‘art’, what they like, or in the case of one man what was ‘trash’ (every piece we stopped at!). We were also invited to join a choir rehearsing in a cathedral (an extremely modern building that we walked by twice before realising this was the cathedral, another story…) for the final time before performing at MOMA the following week (we didn’t get to see the real performance as back at BU by then). This choir group, known as ‘The Unforgettables’, was amazing, the two directors created an unbelievable energy in the room, there was laughter, fun, serious points made about music/signing. Individuals who could barely walk took their turn to stand by the piano and sing heart rending solos which brought a tear to the eye, a lump to the throat. By contrast, other couples sang humourous duets. This was an inspiring group to witness. The choir directors had again made a conscious decision not to ‘dumb down’ their approach but to encourage and challenge, in the same way that they would any other choral group. The results were incredible. We were offered hospitality by the group members, the only tell tale sign that one particular man had dementia was his bringing us 5 cups of iced tea and numerous plates of fruit/cake/biscuits as he didn’t remember that he had already been up to the table and brought us over some goodies. We also visited the Metropolitan Museum, again with long established groups for people with dementia. Some involve art making, others art appreciation, others tours of different parts of the museum. Again the underpinning philosophy is one of ability to engage, to promote intellectual stimulation, social interaction and also the programmes encourage a degree of physical activity by choosing exhibits at various places throughout the building (mental, physical and social stimulation being key to reducing risk of developing dementia, but also to maintaining well-being once diagnosed).

We went to New York because we had heard about the programmes and wanted to see if possible to learn and implement back here in Dorset but also to meet with academic colleagues, present at NYU, meet with the US Alzheimer Association (which has really made us think about donations and fund raising to support our work) and these were also very productive parts of the trip and reinforced that the approach we are taking at BU Dementia Institute is one that we should continue (mainly that engagement and collaboration with the range of stakeholders that has been guiding our work should continue). But what stands out for me is the energy and enthusiasm of those running groups for people with dementia and the huge engagement and enjoyment this approach created. The US might not have a ‘dementia friendly agenda’ being driven at a national policy level,  and New York might not immediately spring to mind as a place where one could live well with dementia, but the initiatives we saw clearly demonstrate the possibility to create dementia friendly environments even in places where sign posting might not be clear, transport busy and where the assumption that services ‘cost’ can be challenged (all the programmes we joined are free to those with dementia).

BUDI Lunch time seminar – Rural Dementia Care

Dorothy Forbes, Associate Professor, Faculty of Nursing, University of Alberta will be visiting BUDI on 25 April. Please join us for this lunch time seminiar at 12 noon until 1pm in CG13, Christchurch House, Talbot Campus.

Email if you wish to attend and feel free to bring your lunch.


Key Messages from our Canadian Rural Dementia Care Research
The presentation will highlight our key findings from several dementia care qualitative and quantitative studies all conducted in Canadian rural settings. The presentation is structured on the Promoting Action on Research Implementation in Health Services (PARIHS) framework and will highlight the context, knowledge, and evidence needed and used, and how knowledge exchange is facilitated. How we initially assessed the Canadian rural home care context relative to dementia care will be described. This will be followed by an examination of the experience of living with dementia throughout the dementia care journey from the perspectives of persons with dementia, their family caregivers, and community-based health care providers. The knowledge needed and used by each of these groups, and the facilitators and barriers to knowledge exchange will be revealed. The impact of social support deficiency on use of home care services and an exploration of social engagement/social inclusion with this population will also be described. Lastly, facilitators that promote quality dementia care and quality of life for persons with dementia and their care partners will be described.

Business School Arrivals

The Business School has seen the arrival of its new Deputy Dean of Research, Andy Mullineux (formerly University of Birmingham) as Professor of Financial Economics. Additional to his wisdom he comes with an AHRC Research Award worth £687K. End of April he will be chairing a session and give a paper at the International Conference on the Global Financial Crisis in Southampton. At the same time the new Head of Department of Accounting, Finance & Economics, Jens Hölscher (formerly University of Brighton), came to Bournemouth as Professor of Economics. He can draw on research funds won under the EU’s Jean Monnet programme and will chair a session and give a paper at a conference on The Pacific Rim Economies in Seoul, South Korea, at the end of April. Both of them have high aspirations to boost the research culture within the school.

BU REF2014 – Staff Circumstances Disclosure

The University is currently preparing to take part in the first Research Excellence Framework (REF) assessment, which is a national exercise to assess the quality of research in UK higher education institutions. To ensure that the University abides by its principles of transparency, consistency, accountability and inclusivity in preparing and finalising the BU submission to the REF, the BU REF 2014 Code of Practice (v2), BU REF Frequently Asked Questions and BU REF Individual Staff Circumstances Disclosure Form have been developed and are now being formally disseminated to all BU academic staff to ensure all eligible staff are fully informed.

These documents are also available on the BU Research Blog under the ‘REF’ tab.

How is this relevant to you?

If you are planning on submitting to the REF2014 assessment, there is a possibility that you might be eligible for a reduction of outputs, depending on your individual circumstances (please see link for more information).

What action do I need to take?

To find out if you are eligible for REF submission, please see section 3.1 of the BU REF 2014 Code of Practice and ‘Staff eligibility’ in the BU REF FAQs. You are then encouraged to complete the disclosure form. If further information is required about any circumstances disclosed, you will be contacted by a member of the HR team involved in the REF. You should print out, sign and return your completed form marked ‘REF Confidential’ to Judith Wilson, HR Manager, M601, Melbury House, 1-3 Oxford Road, Bournemouth, BH8 8ES. Alternatively, you can also email your completed form to

Further information

The BU REF Circumstances Board next meet in May 2013 so if you feel that you have circumstances which you wish to disclose, please do so as soon as possible.

For more information on BU REF2014, please click on ‘ref’ on the right-hand tab, which will take you to all previous blog posts on all things REF.

Please feel free to get in touch with me or Rita Dugan ( if you wish to speak to someone about your REF eligibility.

Software Systems Research Centre Seminar, Prof. Kevin Warwick on “Cyborgs, Robots with Brains and the Turing Test”

Dear all,

We would like to invite you to our next Software Systems Research Centre seminar given by Prof. Kevin Warwick, University of Reading on “Cyborgs, Robots with Brains and the Turing Test”

Room: KG03,  Kimmeridge block,Talbot Campus:

Time: 14:00 – 15:30

Date: Monday, 13-May-2013

Title: Cyborgs, Robots with Brains and the Turing Test

Abstract. In this presentation Kevin will look at the latest results with implant technology (linking human brains with computers), culturing biological neurons and putting them in a robot body (robots with biological brains) and practical Turing Test results (can you tell the difference between a human and a machine from interactive communication?). New experimental data will be presented in each of these areas and participants will be able to see for themselves if they can tell the difference, in a Turing sense, between human and machine dialogue. A brief look will be taken at the future and what all this might mean.

Biography.  Kevin Warwick is Professor of Cybernetics at the University of Reading, England, where he carries out research in artificial intelligence, control, robotics and cyborgs.

Kevin was born in Coventry, UK and left school to join British Telecom, at the age of 16.  At 22 he took his first degree at Aston University, followed by a PhD and research post at Imperial College, London.  He subsequently held positions at Oxford, Newcastle and Warwick Universities before being offered the Chair at Reading, at the age of 33.

As well as publishing 600 research papers, Kevin’s experiments into implant technology led to him being recognised as the world’s first Cyborg and featured as the cover story on the US magazine, ‘Wired’. Kevin has been awarded higher doctorates (DSc) both by Imperial College and the Czech Academy of Sciences, Prague. He was presented with The Future of Health Technology Award in MIT, was made an Honorary Member of the Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg, and has received The IEE Senior Achievement Medal, the IET Mountbatten Medal and in 2011 the Ellison-Cliffe Medal from the Royal Society of Medicine.  In 2000 Kevin presented the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures, entitled “The Rise of the Robots”.

Kevin’s present research involves the invention of an intelligent deep brain stimulator to counteract the effects of Parkinson Disease tremors. The tremors are predicted and a current signal is applied to stop the tremors before they start – this is to be trialed in human subjects. Another project involves the use of cultured/biological neural networks to drive robots around – the brain of each robot is made of neural tissue.

Perhaps Kevin is though best known for his pioneering experiments involving a neuro-surgical implantation into the median nerves of his left arm to link his nervous system directly to a computer to assess the latest technology for use with the disabled. He was successful with the first extra-sensory (ultrasonic) input for a human and with the first purely electronic telegraphic communication experiment between the nervous systems of two humans.

For more info please contact Dr. Raian Ali:

We hope you will join us.

 Kind regards,


CMC Conference – Co-creating and Co-producing Research Outputs with Final Year Undergraduate Students

The conference:  Organised for and by Level H students from three undergraduate degrees and to be held in the Executive Business Centre (7th floor) Wednesday 15th of May 2012.

We will invite 2 keynote speakers, 6 academic and industry contacts and will host an end of conference dinner for all involved. The event will be widely diffused through FB, twitter and a dedicated youtube channel. 

Journal of Promotional Communications: CMC’s first in-house journal will be launched at the conference and will bring together the top 7 conference papers.

Our aim: To attract 40 students to sign up to this years conference! Get the local business community excited about the work our students are doing and a platform to engage with our students.

How it benefits us:  It gives us an opportunity to co-produce research outputs with our dissertation students.

How it benefits students: It is a great way of celebrating top student work and help students disseminate more widely.

How it benefits the university: Provides a highly visible manifestation and online product of the quality of work being produced by students at the end of their undergraduate university career. It clearly contributes to the university Fusion agenda by providing the mechanisms necessary for co-creation and co-production of research outputs to take place.

Wider community:Academics from other institutions, relevant industry contacts, local press, potentially family of students and local business leaders will be invited to this prestigious event and all will have access to the online journal.

Who should I contact: Janice Denegri-Knott the project leader on

Academic Profile Pages

Please accept our apologies whilst the Academic Profile Pages are still incorrect.  IT are working on correcting the pages.  There are issues around random question marks and brackets being added to text, as well as names.  Please bear with us whilst the work is carried out on the profile pages and we apologise for any inconvenience caused.

Rufus Stone to screen Monday 18th March at Kimmeridge

“Love, sexual tension, betrayal, abandonment, anger, sadness all simmering under the façade of British politeness”. –previous audience member.

The award-winning short film, Rufus Stone, will be featured by the Media School’s Narrative Group with a screening on Monday, 18th March at 1 pm in Kimmeridge (KG 03).  All are invited to attend.

Rufus Stone is the culmination of three years of Research Councils UK funded New Dynamics of Ageing research at Bournemouth.  The project, ‘Gay and Pleasant Land? was led by HSC and the Media School’s Kip Jones with a team of researchers and an Advisory Committee made up of older LGBT citizens and their service providers.

The film stars well-known actor, William Gaunt (“The Champions“) in the title role, with Harry Kershaw (“One Man, Two Guvnors“) playing young Rufus.  Rufus Stone was directed by Josh Appignanesi (“The Infidel“) with a story by Kip Jones.

Appignanesi describes the plot:

  • “Rufus Stone dramatises the old and continued prejudices of village life from three main perspectives. Chiefly it is the story of Rufus, an ‘out’ older gay man who was exiled from the village as a youth and reluctantly returns from London to sell his dead parents’ cottage, where he is forced to confront the faces of his estranged past.  Of these, Abigail is the tattletale who ‘outed’ Rufus 50 years ago when he spurned her interest.  She has become a lonely deluded lush.  Flip, the boy Rufus adored, has also stayed in the village: a life wasted in celibacy (occasionally interrupted by anonymous sexual encounters) and denial (who is) looking after his elderly mother.  But Rufus too isn’t whole, saddled with an inability to return or forgive”.

This screening (30 minutes) will be followed by a discussion by Jones on the use of biography, narrative and auto-ethnography in building the story for the film.

Trailer for the film. All are welcome!

Squeezing the pips from a conference with social media

Please forgive the self-publicity, but I would like to share my recent use of social media to promote BU, research, a conference and papers.

Last week, I attended the annual International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) in the US, where I presented three papers, one with a US co-author. It’s the largest conference in the field, drawing 101 papers over three days and attendance in the order of 150-175 academics, graduates and some practitioners.

To broadcast involvement in the conference, I used my personal blog to present a daily summary of interesting papers: The blog posts have had over 210 visits so far and were also circulated on LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. There have been many re-tweets (RTs), plus appreciative emails and direct messages via Twitter.

A short summary of “top 10 research tips” was written for the website which has around 30,000 users, worldwide. It was posted on the site’s blog and is included in this week’s publication:

The outcomes of this type of activity will be long-term and hard to measure, but as I was the only UK delegate at IPRRC this year, it has given BU, our research and industry knowledge an international platform of expertise and insight to present ourselves. The capital cost was almost nil, as I used my own netbook, Wi-Fi was free and the time component was less than an hour a day. Try this approach at your next conference or internal event.

Tom Watson presenting at IPRRC 2013

FREE: Gender Equality Conference “Athena SWAN and Beyond” @ University of Southampton

Back in September 2012, Professor Matthew Bennett, the PVC for Research, Enterprise and Internationalisation announced in a blog post that Bournemouth University was in the process of applying for membership of the Athena SWAN Charter, which was a positive and significant development for the University.

The Athena Swan charter recognises commitment to advancing women’s careers in science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine (STEMM) employment in higher education and is underpinned by three beliefs:

  • The advancement of science, technology, engineering, maths and medicine is fundamental to quality of life across the globe
  • It is vitally important that women are adequately represented in what has traditionally been, and is still, a male-dominated area
  • Science cannot reach its full potential unless it can benefit from the talents of the whole population, and until women and men can benefit equally from the opportunities it affords

(information taken from

The University of Southampton, supported by EPSRC is hosting a Gender Equality Conference “Athena SWAN and Beyond” on the 20 March 2013. This is a FREE event and is a fantastic opportunity for those who are keen to get involved with Athena SWAN.

Event details are as below

To register for the event, please visit this webpage

You can also find out more about the event from here.


The Ethics of Fame

I was idly flicking between TV channels last night, as you do, desperate to find something to watch for a few minutes before bed.  I eventually latched in a frenzy of button pushing – the batteries in the remote need changing – on yet another programme about Richard III, this time the ‘untold story’.  There has been some discussion amongst my peers about the ethics of this whole saga; not the ethics of digging up a king, but the ethics around how this discovery was presented to the world.  There is no doubt that presenting it via a series of news conferences and documentaries has maximised the publicity for the University of Leicester but is this the most ethical way for research to be presented?

 Research is dependent on the process of ‘peer review’ as the gate keeper of quality.  Nothing without peer review should be accepted by anyone as accurate and without flaw, at least so the doctrine goes.  I would probably go as far as to argue that it is unethical and damaging to the reputation of researchers for work to be published that has not undergone rigorous peer review, receiving that quality stamp.  If we take an extreme case I am sure you will agree with me.  A research lab has new results which claim that child vaccination is dangerous; should they be allowed to publicise their claim, causing public hysteria, until their work has been rigorously peer reviewed and the faults and limitations exposed critically?  I am sure you would agree that peer review prior to disclosure has an essential role here?  What if the science was flawed?  But is this not the same, at least in principle, as the case of Richard III?  The quest for the media stories and for the associated glory is not always a positive attribute within academia, being simply an extension of the ‘fame cult’ which seems to haunt modern society were everyone apparently wants to be the latest one hit wonder! 

 I know this bitterly from first hand.  In 2005 I was part of a research team which believed that it had discovered a series of footprints in Mexico which due to their age challenged early colonisation doctrine for the Americas.  The ideas were first subject to protracted review in the journal Nature and in parallel we were successful in being chosen to exhibit at the Summer Exhibition of the Royal Society in 2005.  Our desire to publically launch the work at the exhibition became progressively out of sync with our plans to publish it; the exhibition was an immovable date and the review process fluid and on-going.  In fact by that stage we had abandoned Nature and submitted elsewhere.  At the time of the exhibition the new paper was only just under review and was not actually published until January of the following year, 2006.  Our opponents had a rebuttal published in Nature in December before the publication of the paper they were rebutting!  I went on to prove that these footprints were not in fact footprints at all, a paper four years later that took courage and cost me the friendship of my former collaborators.  It was the right thing to do however.  I view the publicity back in 2005 now with some mild embarrassment; the idea was simply wrong and a more cautious approach would have served better.  It did raise the profile of optical laser scanning and lead to the invitation that took me to Kenya in 2007 and some very real footprints, in fact the second oldest in the world.  But in my heart, and with the benefit of hindsight, I know that the quest for publicity before ensuring the rigorous foundations of the claim was wrong and I learnt a hard lesson about the power of patience and of peer review as the great gate keeper.  Yes peer review may inhibit some of our more creative and innovative ideas and encourages conformism to existing research doctrine, but despite these faults it does stand as a bulwark against bad research.

 I am in no way criticising those involved in the Richard III story, they choose to break their story in the way they did for good reason no doubt; it was after all a huge secret to keep.  But I do believe that in most situations there is an ethical issue of good practice here and a principle that needs upholding.  It is a question that BU has faced quite recently with respect to some of its research on prosthetics at the time of the Paralympics and we held the line at the time that no disclosure should be made until work had been rigorously peer reviewed.  It is a line that I am proud of, founded on personal experience and basic common sense.