Tagged / BU Challenges

PGR students – sign up to the BU Research Themes!

The BU Research Themes were launched in December at the first of the BU-wide Fusion events. The Themes are societally-led, encourage cross-School working and collaboration, and will be the main vehicle through which BU research is presented externally in future.

We’re now encouraging postgraduate research students to sign up to one or more of the Themes! This is a great way to get involved in the BU research environment and to meet other academics and students from across the University.

There are eight BU Research Themes:

  • Creative & Digital Economies
  • Culture & Society
  • Entrepreneurship & Economic Growth
  • Environmental Change & Biodiversity
  • Green Economy & Sustainability
  • Health, Wellbeing & Aging
  • Leisure & Recreation
  • Technology & Design

If you would like to join one or more of the Themes, then complete the form below and I will add you to the list.

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The BU Challenges: the way forward

The BU Challenges (previously the Research Themes) were launched in December at the first of the BU-wide Fusion events. The Challenges are societally-led, encourage cross-School working and collaboration, and will be the main vehicle through which our research is presented externally in future.

To discuss how to take the Challenges forward and foster collaborative working, Matthew Bennett would like to talk to all staff interested in the Challenges. Matthew will spend an hour per Challenge either in the Costa in the Atrium or in the Costa in Studland House and invites you to join him to talk about the way forward for each theme.

The session times are listed below:

Research Theme

Date and Venue

Creative and Digital Economy 11 January – 2.00 pm to 3.00 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Poole House

 

Culture and Society 12 January – 2.30 pm to 3.30 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Poole House

 

Environmental Change and Biodiversity 16 January – 2.00 pm to 3.00 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Poole House

 

Entrepreneurship and Economic Growth 18 January – 11.00 am to 12.00 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Studland House

 

Green Economy and Sustainability 18 January – 4.00 pm to 5.00 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Poole House

 

Recreation and Leisure 19 January – 10.00 am to 11.00 amCosta Coffee Shop, Poole House

 

Health, Wellbeing and Aging 25 January – 1.30 pm to 2.30 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Studland House

 

Technology and Design 23 January – 4.00 pm to 5.00 pmCosta Coffee Shop, Poole House

 

Sign up to the BU Challenges now!

The BU Challenges (previously the Research Themes) were launched in December at the first of the BU-wide Fusion events. The Challenges are societally-led, encourage cross-School working and collaboration, and will be the main vehicle through which our research is presented externally in future.

We’re now encouraging all academic staff to sign up to one or more of the Challenges!

It is hoped that we will soon be able to automate membership via the University’s soon-to-be-launched research management system BRIAN, but in the meantime I need your help to ensure the membership lists are as up to date as possible 🙂

If you registered for the Fusion event on 14 December then your name and chosen Challenge affiliations should be on this spreadsheet – Membership of BU Challenges. Please could you check your details are correct and let me know by email of any changes (jnortham@bournemouth.ac.uk).

If you were unable to attend the event on 14 December but would like to join one or more of the Challenges, then complete the form below and I will add you to the list.

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StaffPGR

Please select the themes that you are interested in (required)

Fusion event 14 December – draft agenda now available!

On the afternoon of the 14 December 2011 we will be launching the Fusion Seminar series with an event focused around launching the eight BU Research Themes.

The event will combine time for cross-BU networking within these themes, with sessions led by theme champions focusing on defining the challenges in education, research & practice within each theme.

The draft programme is now available here: Fusion event 14/12/11 DRAFT programme

You can register for the event and sign-up for the themes most relevant to you using the form below.

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Development of the health, wellbeing and ageing theme

Dear all,

I would really like to encourage full engagement with the fusion day on December 14. The development of the health, wellbeing and ageing theme is up to us – we can harness what we are good at and how research expertise knits together across the uni and present this as our BU interpretation. This is just the beginning and yes we will need a series of events to form together as a community – this will be one of the questions on Dec 14th – what now?

I feel that this theme has a very good pedigree with some excellent talent and is in the white hot area of the fusion triangle! – it is now giving it a voice and direction.

Heather Hartwell

Using computational intelligence to develop predictive modelling that benefits organisations

Watch this excellent short video from BU’s Professor Bodgan Gabrys on the Computer Intelligence EU grant (INFER project) used to develop predictive modelling that’s applicable to multiple industries.

To see other BU videos on YouTube go to the BU YouTube page!

 

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r5zGqCtVSc

Research Funding, Society & Research @ BU

Over the last decade, but particularly in the last five years, BU has matured into a university with a strong research track record with some of the most talented researchers anywhere in the world.  It is a fantastic success story and one to be justifiably proud.  Take a look at the graph which shows the growth in our published output as depicted by Scopus data; it truly something!  Our output has grown at a rate of over 13% compared to 3.7% for the UK as a whole.

RAE2008 was a milestone in this journey – the fourth most improved University was the well-deserved headline!   There is much to shout about but we also have to think carefully about how we can continue this trajectory building on this foundation.

To do this we will need to find more income.  Our research income per academic FTE remains modest at around £6.5k compared to a sector average of £50k per FTE.  To grow our research base further we need to up our game.  You may ask why?  Well to make another step change and ensure that we are not just left in the stocks as a teaching-only university as the sector shifts in the coming years we need to grow our learning community of research students, research assistants and post-doctoral fellows which are the lifeblood of a successful research active university.   To do this we will need to attract much more external research income.  It is not, however, just a question of bidding more, but critically of increasing the quality of our bids and thereby our success rates.

There are many reasons why a shift to a research culture driven by societal need is important, not least of which is to give something back as a public institution to society, but it is also important to ensure our ability to bid more successfully for funds in the future.  Let me use my own career as an illustration.  My first passion is glacial geology and I spent much of the 1990s studying the esoteric discipline of sediment transport in Arctic glaciers.  It was a fantastic period in my life in which I was perpetually scraping together funds for my next field trip and never more at home than on some frozen glacier.  Money was not easy to come by because in truth there was little funding available for such work, to be blunt it has little or no societal relevance.  It was not until I joined BU in 2002 that I started to reinvent my research direction working for the first time in the field of contaminated land as an environmental geologist and starting to work first in Central America and then in Africa on aspects of human evolution.  During this second part of my career my success rate with Research Councils increased three-fold, as did the total amount of research income I generated.  In essence I shifted from a field with little societal relevance to one with huge value. My passion for research remains but is just directed slightly differently!  At the heart of this story is the fact that I was able to transfer my skills as sedimentologist – someone who studies dirt – from one discipline to another.

Within BU we have a lot of active and talented researchers some of whom are working in fields of societal importance but some whom are not, preferring to pursue their own, often narrow, research agenda.  By shifting to a more societal focus for the majority of our research our ability to generate income and achieve societal impact is likely to be much greater and this is a shift that we need to make together over the next year or so.  A shift which is something that is essential if we are to make BU2018 a reality.

During the last year BU has been through a process of defining societal research themes and it is worth refreshing ourselves about this journey.  The initial candidate set of themes was generated from a trawl of all the priority funding areas for all major research funding bodies (Research Councils, European Commission, major charities, etc).  This list was debated and refined by the BU Professoriate and subject to an all staff survey, in which candidate themes where put to the public vote.  The remaining ten themes were scoped out and defined and then whittled to eight earlier this year via debate on this blog.  These are the research themes on which BU has chosen to focus its societal research effort.  But crucially they are still up for debate, evolution and further discussion.  To this end I recently invited all staff to an event on the 14 December 2011 at which the research themes will be scoped further and networks of researchers created.  If you have not signed up yet I would encourage you to do so!

To register your place at the Fusion Event on 14 December complete this form:

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See the BU Research Themes brought to life with our excellent short videos!

Over the next couple of weeks we will be posting a series of YouTube videos to the blog which illustrate examples of the excellent research being undertaken at BU within each of the 8 BU Research Themes.

The first video went live today in the Recreation and Leisure section of the blog, and features Prof Alan Fyall (School of Tourism) discussing the research he has undertaken with the Malaysian Tourism Board to develop a sports tourism policy.

The videos were produced internally by the Marketing & Communications team and provide excellent, colourful and lively examples of BU research brought to life. They are intended to give an insight into the research going on within the Themes.

We’d love to receive your feedback on the videos! Just add a comment to this post 😀

To see other BU videos on YouTube go to the BU YouTube page.

Fusion event 14 December – Launch of the BU Research Themes

On the afternoon of the 14 December 2011 we will be launching the Fusion Seminar series with an event focused around launching the eight BU Research Themes.  It would be great if you could hold this date within your calendars and register for the event.

January through to March the monthly Fusion Seminar series will focus on sharing research, education and professional practice within BU and will culminate in April in a one-day Fusion conference involving both staff and students when the key research themes will be centre stage.  Dates for these events are:

  • 18 January (1.5 hours)
  • 22 February (1.5 hours)
  • 21 March (1.5 hours)
  • 18 April (whole day)

The event on the 14 December is the first in this programme and will focus on Fusion within the eight BU Research Themes.  Following consultation these themes are now fixed as: (1) Health, Wellbeing & Aging; (2) Culture & Society; (3) Creative & Digital Economies; (4) Entrepreneurship & Economic Growth; (5) Environmental Change & Biodiversity; (6) Green Economy & Sustainability; (7) Leisure & Recreation; and (8) Technology & Design.  The event will combine time for cross-BU networking within these themes, with some short keynote talks by theme champions focusing on defining the challenges in education, research & practice within each theme.  We are still looking for one or more champions per theme to step forward and help shape the theme and also the event on the 14 December.  Please get in touch with either myself or Julie Northam.  Once we have all the speakers in place we will be back in touch with a full programme.

You can register for the event and sign-up for the themes most relevant to you using the form below.  It is important to register for the themes that interest you so that we can schedule the parallel sessions accordingly to avoid clashes!

Best wishes

Matthew

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BU research themes – volunteers wanted!

In May/June this year there was a lot of discussion on the Research Themes section of the blog about the shape, scope and structure of the emerging BU research themes. Thank you to everyone who contributed to these discussions – your input to date is hugely appreciated.

Based on the feedback and comments received it is proposed to reduce the number of themes from 10 to 8, with the themes of Ageing and Learning and Public Engagement becoming part the other 8 themes.

Summaries of the 10 themes, including all of the comments received, are available here:

Your research themes need you! – we are now looking for a volunteer(s) for each theme to be responsible for coordinating the discussions and developing a definitive description of the theme by early September.

If you are interested in leading one of the themes please could you let me know by email as soon as possible.

Cultural and Social Change research theme discussions

A number of colleagues from four Schools (AS, HSC, MS, ST) met on Monday 27th June to consider whether a meaningful theme, complementary to those already in development, could be defined within the broad territory of the social sciences and humanities. We had a useful discussion and the phrase ‘Cultural and social change’ was considered an appropriate theme title. The meeting decided that to produce a full prospectus for this theme we would invite any interested colleagues to contribute further inputs to it – these could be thoughts about the overall theme, or suggestions for specific elements to be within it. If you’d like to do so, please go to the latest ‘Cultural and Social Change’ post listed under the Research Themes tab – do not reply to this post.

Given the need to finalise a statement about the theme within the next month, we agreed that blog-based conversations and inputs could run until 15 July, at which point a smaller group would hopefully collate them into a generally acceptable statement which would establish the theme across at least the four Schools so far involved. 

Barry Richards

Cultural and Social Change (Barry Richards and Rosie Read)

A number of colleagues from four Schools (AS, HSC, MS, ST) met on Monday 27th June to consider whether a meaningful theme, complementary to those already in development, could be defined within the broad territory of the social sciences and humanities. We had a useful discussion around the following points:

  1. The themes are being defined as a way of presenting BU’s research externally, but may have internal effects, in promoting collaborations, inflecting research identities, etc.
  2. There will inevitably be major areas of overlap between several themes, given that all are broadly defined.
  3. Dialogue between themes in the development phase would help to clarify boundaries.
  4. The themes of ‘Creative & digital economies’ and ‘Leisure and tourism’, and also ‘Health and well-being’, were ones where overlaps and interfaces with a ‘culture&society’ one would be most obvious.
  5. Contributions to the debate about how to define a ‘culture&society’ theme had suggested that ‘history’ and ‘welfare’ were two important parameters, amongst others.
  6. In the discussion we were very aware of the need to introduce some limits to the theme, and of the possibility therefore that some ‘potential ‘members’ might not fit into the final definition of it.
  7. There was also a view that we should try to include both social scientific and more humanities-based researchers.

The proposal that the phrase ‘Cultural and social change’ might be an appropriate theme title was favourably received. While still very broad (no doubt in some contexts unhelpfully so), it puts implicit emphasis on the historical context (‘change’ being a process in time), which is important for those studying contemporary life as well as for those actually doing historical research. It would encompass researchers of different philosophical orientation, and is hospitable to agendas of social engagement (such as the social welfare vision from HSC, the commentaries on democratic culture from MS, contributions to media and cultural policy/production from MS and ST, and the perspectives on various social issues from AS). Whether the theme title can be modified to reflect explicitly this principle of engagement for social betterment remains to be seen.

The meeting decided that in order to produce a full prospectus for this theme we would invite any interested colleagues to contribute further inputs to it – building on or otherwise responding to the above – via the Research blog. These could be thoughts about the overall theme, or suggestions for specific elements to be within it. If you’d like to do so, please indicate which heading of the theme template you are addressing (summary, scope in/out, ‘big societal questions’ which the theme addresses, link to RC priorities, interlinks with other BU themes). Given the need to finalise a statement about the theme within the next month, we agreed that blog-based conversations and inputs could run until 15 July, at which point a smaller group would hopefully collate them into a generally acceptable statement which would establish the theme across at least the four Schools so far involved. Myself and Rosie Read are happy to play a part in that group; if anyone else is interested please let us know.

You can access the latest version of the scoping document for the Cultural & Society theme here:  Cultural and Social Change – July 2011

In the meantime, to help consolidate the responses so far around this theme, please note that the previous two discussion threads entitled ‘Culture and Society (Rosie Read)‘ and ‘Culture and Society (Barry Richards)‘ are now closed and all future responses related to this theme should be made to this post using the link below. Thank you.

Barry Richards

Health and Wellbeing (Wei-Jun Liang, Kevin McGhee and David Osselton)

Author: Kevin McGhee, Wei-Jun Liang, M. David Osselton (ApSci)

Alternative name suggestion:

Living with environmental change – Health and Wellbeing in the Fast-changing Environments

Functional Genomics and Integrated Systems Biology

Brief theme summary: 

In the dynamic and fast-changing natural or social environments, we are exposed to a variety of pollutants, drugs, viruses and deadly pathogens. As the ages of our population are rising, so are degenerative diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases. Therefore, understanding those environmental impacts on human health and aging is paramount and becomes one of the top priorities in the vision of RCUK.

Differences in genetic make-up between individuals and different populations make us respond differently to harmful agents including prescribed medicinal drugs, beneficial to some or detrimental to others.  The desire to understand detailed mechanisms in order to provide better healthcare had been monumentally dispirited before we were able to reveal the detailed differences in our genomes. Ever since the completion of human genome sequencing in 2004, the advancement in genome sciences in conjunction with that of environmental sciences provides opportunities for substantiating the improvement of human health and wellbeing as well as management of  healthcare of aging populations. Since the genomic sequences of many other important organisms have also been determined, comparative genomic studies between humans and amongst other organisms is currently the most powerful way to unravel the intricate interrelationships of human health and environment. In the post-genome era, this newer vision of biological sciences driven by the concept of systems biology is currently pursued internationally.

With our expertise in molecular biology, human genetics, toxicology and analytical chemistry as well as some of the essential equipment, we can take advantage of functional genomics in order to drive the research theme in human health and wellbeing, and aging, in relation to environmental, social and cultural factors.

Scope of theme: what is included?

 Our current on-going research embraces the following areas:

 Pharmacogenomics

  • Molecular networks of integrin-linked mechanical signalling in relation to human heart disease – Bioimaging (in collaboration with Professor Jiang Jun Zhang of Media School and Professor Adrian Podoleanu of Kent University).
  • Impacts of SNP (genetic variations) on the toxicities of methadone amongst populations (in collaboration with Professor David Paunder of Dundee University).
  • Impacts of SNP (genetic variations) on the efficacy of morphine in patient pain management (collaboration with Tamas Hikish of Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Dr Joy Ross of Royal Marsden Hospital in London).

Biodiversities and conservation

  • Evaluation and protection of local red squirrel populations in Dorset (in collaboration with Dr Kathy Hodder).
  • Evaluation and protection of local Padina species to exploit their economic potential (in collaboration with Dr Roger Herbert).
  • Molecular mechanisms of pheromone-communications of diverse species (in collaboration with Professor Rudy Gozlan).
  • DNA profiling for human and animal identifications in the fields of anthropology and archaeology.

Our topics of interests in the immediate future:

  • Human vitamin C transport and its impact on human degenerative diseases, such as cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases.
  • Human detoxification pathways in relation to the glucuronidation and transport, and personalised medicine (in collaboration with Prof Stephen Wong of Wake Forest University, USA)
  • Molecular mechanisms of infectious diesease (in collaboration with Professor Rudy Gozlan).

Scope of theme: what is excluded? Not sure.

Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?

Humans are exposed to a variety of pollutants, drugs, viruses and deadly pathogens in the modern fast-changing environments. Degenerative diseases, such as cancer, cardiovascular and Alzheimer’s diseases are often associated with aging. To effectively maintain human health and wellbeing, understanding those environmental impacts on human health and aging using the approaches of functional genomics and systems biology is paramount and becomes one of the top priorities in the vision of RCUK.

How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?

Health and well being is one of the most important research areas funded by some of the CRUK, namely, the BBSRC, the Wellcome Trust, the MRC, the Royal Society, from which we could sort future funding.

Our proposed research theme fits very well to the underlined strategic research priorities of the Two Current Research Priority Themes of the MRC:

  • Resilience, repair and replacement (Natural protection, Tissue disease and degeneration, Mental health and wellbeing, and Repair and replacement).
  • Living a long and healthy life (Genetics and disease, Life course perspective, Lifestyles affecting health, Environment and health).

As highlighted by the BBSRC, systems biology is the pivotal approach for addressing issues in human health, aging and diseases. It is an effective way forward to study human health in the aspects of epidemiology, such as parasites, virus, and infectious disease. Our research theme also fits well to strategic research priorities of the BBSRC, in exploiting new ways of working were outline as:

  • Data driven biology
  • Synthetic biology
  • Systems approaches to the biosciences
  • Technology development for the biosciences 

Our research theme also fits well to The CrossCouncil Priorities outlined by the BBSRC:

The Wellcome Trust also focuses on health and wellbeing associated with functional genomics. The Royal Society promotes international collaborations, and is encouraging collaborative studies on human health, wellbeing and aging impacted by population single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) coincided with human life style and different ethnicities in the diverse living environments.

To follow the strategies outlined by RCUK in promoting 3Rs (Replacement, Refinement and Reduction of Animals in Research), we propose to use the cost-effective and well characterised model organisms, fruit-fly and zebra fish to study the molecular mechanisms in conjunction with survey data from human subjects.  The genome information of those model organisms is known and the organisms are amendable to genetic defects and molecular manipulations.  Moreover, at least 75% of human disease genes have their counterparts in their genomes. 

How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration?

Our research theme is complementary to the existing research in HSC and will be of interest to local hospitals and communities. Although a small team, we have the expertise in molecular biology, toxicology, and analytical chemistry with some of the essential equipment. Our current research orientations already fit well with the remit of our university research and enterprise strategies. We certainly would like to contribute to the existing theme of research orientations, particularly, health and well being, aging, environmental sciences, and social and cultural sciences within the university. Our expertise will enable us to form close link with the existing research groups that have already formed critical mass, particularly in the ApSci and HSC.

Through our research, we have already formed strong links with the Media School of BU and Physics Department in the University of Kent for bioimaging and biomodelling. We have already submitted a strong interdisciplinary research proposal to the MRC, addressing the impacts of genome on heart diseases. We will maintain this collaborative consortium and continuously formulate research proposals to address issues involved in human health and wellbeing.  We have also established strong links with Dr Helen Machitia of Glasgow University, Joy Gill of Imperial College School of Medicine for collaborative research in science and society.

Since we already have the expertise and facilities in fish studies in the School of Applied Sciences, it is logial and efficient to use the well characterised model organism, zebra fish to address questions in human health, fish conservation and environment issues.

Ageing (Kevin McGhee, Wei-Jun Liang, M. David Osselton)

Author: Kevin McGhee, Wei-Jun Liang, M. David Osselton (ApSci)

Alternative name suggestion: Genomics and Ageing (as a variant or sub-theme perhaps?)

Brief theme summary:  Demographically, the town of Bournemouth is enriched with an older, predominantly Caucasian population. Studies already proposed within this blog forum suggest that data of a phenotypic nature is available within the BU community. By introducing genomics as a tool to enhance the understanding of several themes: Ageing, Health and Wellbeing, Culture and Society and Environmental Change and Biodiversity we believe that expertise within the Forensic and Biological Sciences group (ApSci) can create new opportunities for research.

We propose to collect DNA from the Bournemouth geographical area and match this with existing phenotypic data to create a rich knowledge databank that we can share with existing and future genomic collaborative initiatives, leading to high impact papers.

Scope of theme: what is included? Gene x environment interaction; population genetics; psychological genetics; cognitive genetics; cancer genetics; cardiovascular genetics; genetics of ageing; biological ageing; toxicogenomics, functional genomics; cellular ageing; Alzheimer’s; dementia.

Scope of theme: what is excluded? Not entirely sure – open for discussion.

Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?

Societal question: What is my risk of developing an illness e.g. Cardiovascular disease*?  It is known that fatty streaks can appear on the major arteries of children as young as one year old. Through environmental influences such as diet, nutrition, exercise and co-morbidity, the risk of an individual child developing atherosclerosis in later adult life can change in response to a number of lifestyle factors. However, at a cellular level individual variation in genes involved in atherosclerosis pathogenesis influence how one’s lifestyle factors modify that risk (and vice versa). By combining data from health science, social science and psychology with biological data such as DNA, a greater understanding of the profound interaction between genes and environment can be achieved (*This can be substituted for any disease of your choice).

Can you pose these questions?  If the phenotypic data is already available (i.e. social, health status, psychological study) then yes we can. In collaboration with HSC, DEC and others we would have to obtain DNA from individuals from the Bournemouth area and then link the genomic data with the phenotypic data. This will require enormous computing power and experts in e.g. the statistical package ‘R’ as well as genomics expertise from ApSci

How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?

Of the seven research councils forming RCUK, two have current themes on genomics and ageing (BBSRC and MRC) and one further council’s (ESRC) theme investigating social science and culture and science.  The MRC has recently closed the Phase III call with Phase I seeing the creation of three fully funded centres: Edinburgh, Newcastle and UCL.  The Edinburgh centre already has a paper in press (Molecular Psychaitry) combing a Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) with a vast array of phenotypic data, of which McGhee is a co-author (Davis et al, 2011).   By combining data on the local population already available within eg HSC, with the proposed collection of DNA from Bournemouth and surrounding areas, it allows BU to enter  collaborations on an international scale addressing the ‘big questions’ posed by the thress councils above.

Furthermore the Wellcome Trust’s strategic plan 2010-2020 has five main themes:

  • Maximising the health benefits of genetics and genomics
  • Understanding the brain
  • Combating infectious disease
  • Investigating development, ageing and chronic disease
  • Connecting environment, nutrition and health

Under the proposed BU theme of ageing, at least four out of the five Wellcome themes above can contribute to some aspect of ageing whilst facilitating multi-disciplinary research between schools and indeed, other institutions. By creating a repository of genomic and phenotypic information, it allows BU to enter collaborations with research intensive universities, increasing our prospects for high impact papers.

Reference:  Gail Davies, Albert Tenesa, Antony Payton, Jian Yang, Sarah E. Harris, David Liewald, Xiayi Ke, Stephanie Le Hellard , Andrea Christoforou, Michelle Luciano, Kevin McGhee, Lorna Lopez, Alan J. Gow, Janie Corley, Paul Redmond, Helen C. Fox, Paul Haggarty, Lawrence J. Whalley, Geraldine McNeill, Michael E. Goddard, Thomas Espeseth, Astri J. Lundervold, Ivar Reinvang, Andrew Pickles, Vidar M. Steen, William Ollier , David J. Porteous, Michael Horan, John M. Starr, Neil Pendleton, Peter M. Visscher, Ian J. Deary. 2011. Genome-wide association studies establish that human intelligence is highly heritable and polygenic. Molecular Psychiatry (in press)

How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration?

Ageing links with the BU themes: Health and Wellbeing, Culture and Society and even Environmental Change and Biodiversity, opening up further avenues for funding. It takes little imagination to identify ageing with health and wellbeing but with culture and society this may require some more imagination. For example, by comparing different populations e.g. China and UK and looking at both their environmental and social structure we can then infer how these variables combined with genomics have an impact on health and wellbeing as well as healthy ageing.

By stretching our imagination even further, it is possible to link Environmental Change and Biodiversity with Ageing. For example, one could take the view that as an individual grows older the environment, in which they live both locally and globally, is constantly under change. Sustainable fish stocks as a topical example has an effect both environmentally within the world’s oceans but also affects humans as a source of food and nutrients. It would be interesting to research how the ageing process and cognitive outcome of a five year old child now will be in 60 years’ time when compared to a 65 year old individual now and the foodstuffs available to them as a five year old child in 1951. Environmental, Biochemical, Genetic and Toxicological studies can all contribute to this theme.

This is obviously only one example of how several research themes can join together and we welcome discussion from colleagues on the suggestions we have raised.

Linking Tourism and Health Initiatives

Dr Heather Hartwell considers the link between tourism and health initiatives…

Some timely news and evidence for a potential strength within our University, we have just been featured in the Big Ideas for the Future, a new report from Research Councils UK (RCUK) and Universities UK that explores the excellent research taking place in UK higher education at the moment and what it will mean for us in 20 years time.

Interestingly we were featured in the chapter ‘recreation and leisure’ where we shared some current research linking tourism and public health. The focus of our interest is about co-locating tourism and public health strategy as a means of developing an inclusive culture where the “tourist” destination is seen to enhance and promote the advancement of both physical and mental health for both tourist and local residents.

Therefore, a research stream of ‘recreation and leisure’ building on our School of Tourism reputation seems to me to be a theme that could have future significance for us, particularly when aligned to our strength in health and wellbeing.

Trying to define digital economy

At a recent meeting which John Oliver arranged we tried to define some key terms for the creative and digital theme and the inital viewpoint was that the ‘digital economy’ was a narrower definition focusing mainly on enterprise and ‘doing’, however this definition of the digital economy from the The Research Council UK is broader:  “the novel design or use of information and communication technologies to help transform the lives of individuals, society or business (RCUK website accessed February 2011).”

Research Themes – Culture and Society meeting

Prof Barry Richards, Media School, is convening a meeting of interested people to explore whether there is sufficient common ground for a meaningful Culture and Society theme to be defined.

If you are interested in attending please could you let Barry know by email (brichards@bournemouth.ac.uk) which of the times below would be most convenient (or register interest if neither time is possible for you). Dr Rosie Read, Health and Social Care, has drafted a possible prospectus for such a theme, as a starting point for discussion, which is available via the Research Themes section of the Blog (you can access it here).

The options for the meeting are:
9.30 Friday 24th June
1.00 Monday 27th June

Leisure and Recreation (Sean Beer and Scott Cohen)

Author: Sean Beer and Scott Cohen (Tourism)

Alternative name suggestion: Recreation and leisure

Brief theme summary: We view leisure and recreation as an interdisciplinary theme that closely engages associated subjects of tourism, sport, health, events, retail and hospitality, as well as the arts, outdoor pursuits, play and entertainment, amongst others. Central to understandings of leisure is its association with non-work time and work/life balances, although admittedly the boundaries between leisure and work often blur. 

Experience is central to leisure and recreation, in which people may seek to enhance the quality of their lives through leisure’s potential to transform, refresh, recreate, relax and/or escape. Leisure and recreation link to the renewal and development of social bonds, social capital, forms of cultural consumption, creativity and self-development, through both formal and informal modes and at home and away from home. 

Leisure and recreation is also concerned with issues of social inclusion, equity and diversity through policy and practice, as well as socio-cultural and environmental research in relation to its impacts.

Also drawing together notions of hospitable space and the formation of some types of temporary events, leisure and recreation can thus be seen as encompassing a full range of practices associated with the meanings, processes and activities that may enrich non-work time and space.

Scope of theme: what is included? Leisure, recreation, leisure/work balance, tourism, hospitality, events, retail, sport, health and healthy living, physical activity, exercise, play, gaming, experience, entertainment, casual/serious leisure, art, culture, creativity, learning, consumption, pro-sumption, lifestyle, volunteering, adventure, local/global, physical/virtual, transport, movement/mobility, social/cultural/environmental/economic aspects of leisure, fusion.

Scope of theme: what is excluded? For discussion of this please see section on Links with other BU themes under consideration.

Which big societal questions are addressed by this theme?

  • Quality of life: mental, physical, spiritual
  • The Big Society: the relationship between the public, private and third sectors and society, responsibility and individual behaviour within society with regard to many of the big issues of the day such as climate change, health, sustainability
  • Work life balance: the blurring of the edges between work and leisure
  • Equality and access (Gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, wealth, family units)
  • Aging population (A particular issue for the UK and the SW of England.)
  • Multiculturalism
  • Localism and globalisation
  • The growth of the virtual world

How do these link to the priorities of the major funding bodies?

  • Arts and Humanities Research Council, numerous opportunities
  • Economic and Social Research Council, all areas of their strategic priorities; Influencing Behaviour and Informing Interventions, A Vibrant and Fair Society, Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth.
  • Leverhulme, broad, but for example, particularly focussing on surmounting traditional disciplinary academic boundaries
  • British Academy, a wide range of opportunities
  • Nuffield Foundation, many opportunities
  • Esmée Fairbairn Foundation,  opportunities for funded research which helps them in their aim to improve the quality of life for people and communities in the UK both now and in the future
  • Natural Environment Research Council, links between leisure, the natural environment and sustainability
  • Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, areas such as technology and behaviour interventions.
  • Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, areas such as food and sustainability.
  • Medical Research Council, collaborative work through programme grant scheme
  • European Union, potential under FP7 and in other areas

Research Excellence Framework Unit of Assessment 26 & 19 (and also others though the emphasis would be more towards the theme of the other Unit.)

How does this theme interlink with the other BU themes currently under consideration? There are a multitude of connections to the other themes.  This is not seen as a disadvantage, we deliberately set out to be inclusive and holistic in our approach rather than exclusive and reductionist.  The approach is underpinned by an intention to look for fruitful areas of collaboration and to be able to showcase the work of colleagues in a variety of ways. 

Thus within Health and wellbeing there are overlaps in terms of quality of life, social inclusion and involvement in volunteering, for instance, but not necessarily in relation to management of health care and health care professionals.  In terms of Environmental change and biodiversity and the Green economy and sustainability the natural environment and human wellbeing are intrinsically linked, as are concepts of sustainability and the action of the individual through volunteering for an environmental charity for example.  The science of biodiversity is not an area that comes within the theme. 

There are synergies with regard to work looking at Aging, relating to access and quality of life, but not directly with specific therapies.  For many people learning is leisure, though work based learning is not.  There are connections with Learning and public engagement, as there are with Entrepreneurship and economic growth, given the role of individuals outside work in things like social entrepreneurship and also entrepreneurship within specific leisure and recreation industries.

For many individuals leisure and recreation is bound up with Technology and design as well as the Creative and digital economies, and whilst this theme is not connected to the intricacies of web design (unless it is your hobby) increasingly people are conducting their leisure lives in virtual worlds, where social connections and connecting is a virtual experience of life, love and even sex, but who is to say that it is any better or worse for that.  All this seems to be underpinned by change and any consideration of Culture and society or Society & Social Change must be a close bed fellow to this and all the other themes.