University of Stirling

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News Archive

November 2006

Advantage Stirling: Murray Opens Ace Facilities

Lion's Share of Happiness Under Threat

Care with Chips: Smart Technology Gives Elderly Independence Back

Stirling is in UK Top Ten for Best Student Experience

Seventy Years on: Stirring up Scottish Memories of the Spanish Civil War

Clare Short to Give University Address - Thursday 16 November 2006

Science Proves Ricky Gervais Has Britain's Funniest Face

Newsweek Chief to Analyse American Election Results

Malawi Strikes Deal on Teacher Training

Stirling: Fluctuating Fortunes and Future Prospects of the Historic Fortress

Young kids obsessed with TV

Could radio be key to Malawi's Teaching Crisis

Rights, Freedom and Welfare in Economics - Lectures on Monday 6 November and Wednesday 15 November 2006

University Honours in Inverness - Friday 3 November 2006

Venezuelan Ambassador to Speak on Oil Markets - Friday 3 November 2006

Managerial Remuneration - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly? - Inaugural Lecture, Wednesday 1 November 2006

Advantage Stirling: Murray Opens Ace Facilities

Date released: Monday 27 November 2006

Scottish tennis sensation Andy Murray will return to his roots on Monday 27 November to open a £1.3 million extension to the Scottish National Tennis Centre at the University of Stirling.

Funded by sportscotland (£500,000), the Lawn Tennis Association (£450,000), the University of Stirling (£325,000) and Tennis Scotland (£25,000), the two new acrylic courts cement Stirling’s position as Scotland’s focal point for performance training in tennis; the National Tennis Centre already boasts 4 indoor courts and 2 outdoor courts.

As a school boy living in Dunblane, Andy and his brother Jamie used the University’s indoor courts as their training base – training during the day, after school and weekends under the guidance of their mother and Scotland’s then National Tennis Coach Judy Murray. Jamie continues to train at the University with doubles partner and University sports scholar Colin Fleming.

University of Stirling Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine Hallett said: “The University has long been at the forefront of high performance sport and training. More than 70 talented tennis players have benefited from our international sports scholarship programme over the past 25 years and these new courts will help us to increase tennis participation in Scotland and nurture Scotland’s finest young sporting talent.”

She added: “We are delighted to welcome Andy back to the campus. This project goes back to the 1990s when Andy and Jamie trained for hours and hours on our courts as schoolboys; and look where it has taken them. These new facilities are the result of the drive, energy and commitment of our partners including sportscotland, the Lawn Tennis Association and Tennis Scotland as well as our own estates and sports studies staff.”

sportscotland also announced today (Monday 27 November) further investment in Tennis Scotland for 2007. The award of £318,000, of which £200,000 is from the sportscotland lottery fund will go towards club development, coaching, medal success, organisational development and player improvement.

Chair of sportscotland, Julia Bracewell OBE, said: “We recognise the importance of tennis in Scotland and we hope our funding of the Scottish National Tennis Centre along with our continued support to Tennis Scotland will help build on recent achievements. Our investment aims to support tennis at all levels and help athletes with dreams of following in the footsteps of Andy Murray realise their potential.”

Speaking of the enhanced facilities, Chief Executive of Tennis Scotland, David Marshall said: “Quite simply, this enhanced facility will become the hub for tennis in this country. In addition to a central training resource, a home base for our players on the tour and a high performance centre, players can also enjoy the benefit of superb support facilities including sports sciences and a state of the art fitness centre, creating what is, in effect, a sports village. This is a hugely significant development in terms of putting the infrastructure in place if we are to ensure our most promising players are given every assistance possible in their drive to the top of the game.”

Chief Executive of the LTA, Roger Draper added: "It is vital to the future success of tennis in Great Britain that our elite and on track players have access to these type of high performance facilities. I am sure this will help to create a real focal point of excellence for tennis in Scotland."

Welcoming the launch of the new extension, Sports Minister Patricia Ferguson said: “Quality sports facilities are essential to develop the expertise of Scotland’s athletes. These new facilities at the Scottish National Tennis Centre are a welcome addition. There is great potential across Scotland and we are committed to supporting the elite as well as nurturing up and coming players to ensure a bright future for tennis in Scotland."

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Lion's Share of Happiness Under Threat

Date released: Monday 27 November 2006

The LionDrover in actionA project to improve the welfare of captive lions is under threat due to lack of funding.

University of Stirling graduate Mark Kingston Jones (23), who is working in collaboration with students from the University of Strathclyde’s Department of Design, Manufacture & Engineering Management (DMEM), has had to stall plans to roll out a new device which gives carnivores in captivity the chance to experience the thrill of the chase.

The LionDrover, a small remote controlled aluminium tank decorated with zebra stripes, is capable of travelling at speeds of up to 30mph and represents a huge step forward in the search for an alternative to live prey in replicating ‘the hunt’. As well as stimulating the lions, it also offers zoo and safari park visitors the opportunity to witness behaviour otherwise only to be seen on the Africa plains.

Commenting on the research, Mark said: “Carnivores are intelligent and their welfare is difficult to cater for in captivity as it is unethical to feed live prey. This innovative project pioneers a dynamic form of hunting enrichment for captive carnivores whilst educating the public at the same time.”

The device was pioneered at Blair Drummond Safari Park, near Stirling, and the park has already substantially contributed towards the development of this device, but Mark now needs to find extra funding, to create additional machines and cover research costs, to enable him to conduct studies at zoos and safaris parks across the UK with lions, wild dogs and wolves.

The University of Stirling’s Department of Psychology has a long history of cutting edge research on animal welfare. Professor Hannah Buchanan-Smith said: “This unique project showcases the application of animal welfare theory in a practical real world situation. The LionDrover is a fantastic way to stimulate predatory behaviour of these large brained and highly social carnivores and thus improve their welfare. It is critically important for Mark to carry out further research to measure its impact and encourage widespread use.”

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Care with Chips: Smart Technology Gives Elderly Indepedence Back

Date released: Friday 24 November

West Lothian Council’s new approach to the care and support of older people at home using telecare has led to greater independence, safety and security for clients and peace of mind for informal carers, according to an independent three-year study by the University of Stirling.

In the UK’s largest telecare implementation to date, the Council has installed smart technology in people’s own homes and in newly built housing care complexes. Smart technology is integrated into a model of care which emphasises choice, independence and capacity-building for older people and aims to support them to remain in their own homes as long as possible. The home alert system consists of a small console that plugs into the telephone line and can be connected wirelessly to a number of functions such as smoke detectors and motion sensors depending on the individual’s needs. For example, the call centre would be alerted by the system if there was a fire or if the person did not get out of bed.

The University’s evaluation has particularly emphasised the impact of the new model of care on older people’s quality of life.

Professor Alison Bowes, of the University’s Department of Applied Social Science, said: “The majority of respondents living at home reported the positive impact of the smart technology. It was widely seen as supporting their safety and security and thus helping them to stay in their own homes. We noticed that many respondents were reluctant to ‘give in’ to a need for help and support, but the technology is available free to anyone over 65 in West Lothian area and this should help reduce any stigma that people may feel. In housing with care complexes the response was similarly positive with tenants and informal carers such as family and friends feeling reassured by the new technology.”

The key lessons from the West Lothian Experience are:


• Smart technology is effective in a model of care promoting
independence, choice and capacity-building and in supporting
older people and informal carers;


• For staff, smart technology can be a catalyst in a cultural
change regarding service delivery;


• A mainstreaming strategy can offer wider support, reduce the
stigma of using services and facilitate additional support if
needed;


• Costs can be controlled, ensuring effective use of limited
budgets alongside improvements in services.


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Professor Alison Bowes

University of Stirling

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Stirling is in UK Top Ten for Best Student Experience

Date released: Thursday 16 November 2006

The University of Stirling is one of the top ten Universities in the UK for student experience, according to a survey of students by the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES).


Students were asked to rate their University on the quality of staff/lectures, courses, social life, community atmosphere, campus environment, extracurricular activities, facilities, students’ union, support/welfare, industry connections, cheap shop/bar, tuition, accommodation, workload, security, sports facilities and library.


University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Christine Hallett said: “The University of Stirling is a wonderful place to study – it has an excellent reputation for its teaching and research and is a caring community located on one of the finest campuses in Europe. We focus upon student-centred teaching with flexible learning opportunities, including almost 300 degree combinations. We also offer students an extensive range of support services, to help them get the most out of University. The scenery on the campus is breathtaking and students are presented with a wide range of social, cultural and sporting facilities.”


Stirling was one of only two Scottish institutions to make the shortlist for the THES award for the UK’s Best Student Experience, which was presented to the University of Loughborough at an awards ceremony in London last night (Wednesday 15 November). The eight other universities in the running were Cambridge, Leeds, Liverpool, Oxford, Sheffield, St Andrews, Swansea and Warwick.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Seventy Years on: Stirring up Scottish Memories of the Spanish Civil War

Date released: Monday 13 November 2006

UK veterans of the Spanish Civil War are being sought by the universities of Stirling and St Andrews to take part in as series of 70th anniversary events this November. Around 2000 Britons, including 500 Scots, fought in Spain as part of the International Brigades in the three years of war (1936-1939).

The milestone is being marked by a series of events, under the banner The Spanish Civil War: Images and Memories, at the National Library of Scotland and National Galleries of Scotland supported by Stirling’s School of Languages, Cultures and Religions and St Andrews’ Spanish Department.

Head of the University of Stirling’s School of Languages, Cultures, and Religions, Professor Andrew Ginger said:

“The Spanish Civil War was one of the defining events of the twentieth century. It’s also an important part of Scottish twentieth century history because of the significant numbers of Scots who went to Spain to fight for the Republic and against Fascism in the years before the Second World War. It’s important that in this 70th anniversary year we remember the first major conflict with European Fascism and the values that were at stake in the fighting.”

Thursday 16 November

Drama and Feeling: The Women in Picasso's Guernica - Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, National Galleries of Scotland, 6-7pm. Free. Unticketed.

Elizabeth Cowling, Reader in the History of Art at the University of Edinburgh, explores the women depicted in Picasso's great mural, considering why they are given such prominence, the models the artist may have had in mind, and whether or not Guernica is exceptional in the artist's work in this respect. Guernica is considered by some to be modern art’s most powerful anti-war statement and was painted by Picasso in 1937. 2006 also marks the 125th anniversary of Picasso’s birth.

Professor Ginger said: “Guernica is one of the great paintings of the twentieth century, and Picasso one of the great modern artists. The painting has become an icon of a century scarred by war.”

Friday 17 November


Spanish Civil War symposium – National Library of Scotland, 11am -4.30pm. To book a free place please phone 0131 623 3845 or e-mail: events@nls.uk


This commemorative symposium will feature talks by Andrew Ginger (University of Stirling), Nigel Dennis (St Andrews University) and Daniel Gray (National Library of Scotland). The last two surviving Scottish members of the International Brigades who fought in Spain, Steve Fullarton and James Maley, will be present as well as the Spanish Consul. The event will feature archive material including original posters, artefacts, photographs and a document signed by almost all members of Clement Attlee's future Labour cabinet. A documentary on the evacuation of Basque children to Great Britain in 1937 will also be screened. It will be introduced by the Director, Steve Bowles, of Eye Witness Productions.

Thursday 23 November

Las Cajas Españoles (The Spanish Crates) – Hawthornden Lecture Theatre, National Galleries of Scotland, 6pm. Free. Unticketed.


A chance to see this fascinating documentary about the evacuation by loyal Republicans of the contents of Madrid's Prado Museum in 1936, in order to protect them from fascist air-raids on the capital. Using a mixture of contemporary newsreel footage and imaginative reconstruction, the film shows how Spain's greatest artistic treasures – among them, paintings by Velázquez, Goya and Murillo – were crated and moved in harrowing circumstances from Madrid to Valencia, and then across the border into France and later Switzerland. The director of the film, Alberto Porlan, will give a short introduction before the screening.

 

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Professor Andrew Ginger

University of Stirling

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Clare Short to Give University Address - Thursday 16 November 2006

Date released: Monday 6 November 2006

The Rt Hon Clare Short, who has recently announced that she will be stepping down as a Labour MP at the next General Election, will give the University of Stirling’s annual Andrew John Williamson Memorial Lecture on Thursday 16 November on the topic Re-Thinking UK Foreign Policy.

Commenting on the topic of her forthcoming lecture, Ms Short said: “Current UK foreign policy is humiliating the UK as we are cast as a poodle of a deeply mistaken US administration. We are undermining international law, weakening the UN and exacerbating the problem of terrorism.”

Ms Short was Secretary of State for International Development from 1997 to May 2003. She previously worked as a Civil Servant at the Home Office, as a Director of Youthaid and the Unemployment Unit and as a Director of AFFOR, a community based organisation promoting racial equality in Birmingham. She entered the House of Commons in 1983 as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Birmingham Ladywood, which she has held since then.

From 1996 until the 1997 General Election she was Opposition spokesperson on Overseas Development. She was Shadow Minister for Women from 1993 to 1995 and Shadow Secretary of State for Transport from 1995 to 1996. She has been Opposition spokesperson on Environment Protection, Social Security and Employment. A member of the Home Affairs Select Committee from 1983-85, she was Chair of the All-Party Group on Race Relations from 1985-1986, member of Labour's National Executive Committee (NEC) from 1988-1997 and Chair of the NEC Women's Committee from 1993-1996. Since 2003; she has been a member of Helsinki Process on Globalisation and Democracy and member of International Advisory Board, Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces (GDAF). Since 2004; she has been an Associate of Oxford Research Group.

The annual Williamson lecture has attracted major political figures since it was launched in 1983 including Michael Portillo, Paddy Ashdown, Alex Salmond, Michael Forsyth, George Robertson, Menzies Campbell and George Reid.

The talk is free of charge and open to the public. It will be held in the A3, Cottrell Building commencing at 7pm. Spaces are limited, so please arrive early to avoid disappointment.

 

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Graham Timmins

University of Stirling

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Science Proves Ricky Gervais Has Britain's Funniest Face

Date released: Friday 10 November 2006


Comedy FaceRicky Gervais has the ‘perfect face for comedy’ according to new scientific research published today. The research proves that although Gervais started his celebrity life as a pop star, comic prowess has always been his destiny.

Commissioned by Jongleurs Comedy Clubs to help understand why certain comics get better reactions than others, and conducted by Dr Anthony Little of the University of Stirling, the UK’s leading facial perception expert, the ‘Jongleurs Comedy Report’ demonstrates that there is a clear link between a comedian’s career success and their physical appearance. Using unique computer software, 179 different aspects of each of the nation’s top 20(1) comedians’ faces were mapped and then blended to produce a composite portrait. The result showed a clear resemblance to Gervais’ face (see picture).

The study goes a long way to explain why we find some comics funny before they even speak. It reveals that we find a combination of a round face, small forehead, wide nose, big lips, large eyes and high cheekbones absolutely hilarious. And whilst the investigation revealed that our nation’s favourite funny people have many of these common characteristics, it is Ricky Gervais’ face that has the strongest representation of the prototypical funny face.

Dr Little, from the Universtiy of Stirling’s Department of Psychology, says: “The features most likely to mark male comedians out for success are predominantly soft and feminine. The face is a strong indication of character and today’s study appears to explain why comedians of a certain appearance would have been drawn to their career.

“The characteristics of a feminine face imply that the person may be agreeable and co-operative, which can be causal in our first impressions of comedians as being friendly and funny. In the same way that infants are pre-programmed to respond to the warmth and approachability of a mother’s face, soft, feminine features put us at ease and encourage us to relax. This is conducive to laughter and enjoyment.”

Although not a feature of the original study, Dr Little also carried out a separate investigation into the comedy phenomenon “Borat” – the current alter-ego of Sacha Baron Cohen. Baron Cohen would appear to be the exception to the comedy rule as, in comparison Ricky Gervais, his facial traits are distinctly masculine and serious - characteristics that create a dominant, authoritative and serious appearance.

Little explains: “Cohen’s atypical comedy face may be the reason why his routine depends on disguise and alter-egos. Borat’s costume, exaggerated accent and feigned slow-wittedness help create a false sense of superiority in his interviewees. The humour lies not in making the respondent laugh, but in convincing them that Borat is serious, if harmless and ill-informed.”

Understanding why certain comics get better reactions than others is important to Jongleurs as it helps ensure they constantly book the UK’s best stand-up comics. Jongleurs founder, Maria Kempinska said: “We’re always looking to find out what makes our customers laugh so these insights are fantastic. I’m sure Ricky will be pleased to know he can add the honour of having Britain’s funniest face to his collection of credits.”

Jongleurs was also keen to use the findings to determine whether certain high-profile individuals might have faces that would help them cut it in the world of stand up comedy. Strong candidates for a life cracking gags include Conservative leader David Cameron and Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney.

David Cameron is a strong candidate for comic proficiency, due to his round and wide facial shape, large eyes and soft features. And despite Rooney’s angular and masculine jaw, the overall configuration of his face - rounded with his features clustered in the centre around a snub nose - give him a boyish appearance, which is approachable rather than threatening.

Someone who should definitely stick to his day job is England manager Steve McClaren. McClaren’s serious, masculine and dominating face (rectangular with a low brow ridge) means it’s unlikely that he’d last long on the comedy circuit. Dr Little suggests he would actually be more suited to taking on the role of “heroic actor” if his paymasters at the Football Association ever tire of him.

Little adds: “Typically masculine facial traits, such as chiselled jaws and high foreheads are regarded as less amusing and their owners are less likely to succeed in a comedy career. Faces of heroic actors are narrower than comedians’, with greater definition, smaller eyes and prominent jaws. Overall their appearance is very masculine, compared to the gentle, feminine qualities of the comedy face.”

With this in mind, how suitable is Daniel Craig for his new role as James Bond? His casting divided opinion, yet does his face betray heroic potential?

Little explains: “Daniel Craig’s face is closer to that of a heroic actor than that of a comedian, yet it does possess some feminine aspects. He is well suited to play Bond since it’s a role that demands a little spoof and light-heartedness as well as dashing masculine heroism.

“It is likely, however, that a comedian would struggle to play a heroic role convincingly. Due to their appearance, it would be difficult for them to appear believable in situations where dominance and powerful sincerity is important. Daniel Craig would be a flop as Bond if he possessed all of the ‘face for comedy’ traits.”

One final question though still remains unanswered from the Jongleurs study. Could some famous faces benefit from a comedy make-over? Would, for example, Tony Blair be more popular if he had a more comic face?
Dr Little concludes: “Its impossible to say, but what the research does highlight is that there is a genuine connection between a person’s facial characteristics, other’s perceptions of what this says about their personality and the career path that they are more inclined to take. Having found the perfect face for comedy, there may be the perfect face for business, politics and so on. There is great potential for further research.”

To view other work by Dr Little log onto: www.alittlelab.com

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Newsweek Chief to Analyse American Election Results

Date released: Friday 10 November 2006

Stryker McGuire, the London Bureau Chief for Newsweek Magazine and NBC News, will give a special public lecture at the University of Stirling on Transatlantic News: US and UK relations after Iraq and the mid-term elections on Monday 13 November at 5pm in Pathfoot Lecture Theatre (A96).

McGuire will analyse the mid-term elections results in the United States and will discuss how they will affect transatlantic relations and the War in Iraq. His talk is part of the University’s joint seminar series in International Relations and Journalism.

Stryker McGuire joined Newsweek in 1978. Following several reporting, editing and management assignments in the United States and Latin America, he became Newsweek's West Coast Editor, based in Los Angeles, in 1993. There, in addition to covering immigration and other issues affecting America's Western states, he directed the magazine's award-winning coverage of the O.J. Simpson trial. In 1996, he was named London Bureau Chief. Since that time, he has written several cover stories about Tony Blair, ranging from Blair's rise (Blair's Britain, 1996) and Blair's slow fall (The Twilight of Tony Blair, 2003).

Over the years McGuire has won numerous national and international awards including, most recently, Best Foreign Reporting from the Foreign Press Association in London.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Jairo Lugo

University of Stirling

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Malawi Strikes Deal on Teacher Training

Date released: Thursday 9 November 2006

Scotland's teacher training institutions have formed a partnership to with the University of Malawi's Chancellor College to support trainers through a two-year Bachelor of Education top-up degree in primary education.

The Executive-funded scheme, supported by Strathclyde, Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paisley and Stirling universities, is intended to improve the standard of teacher in Malawi where free primary education was first introduced in 1994.

Minister for Parliamentary Business Margaret Curran said:

"Access to education transforms people's lives and opens doors to a lifetime of opportunities. Here in Scotland, we're lucky to have the teaching infrastructure we need, and we see the difference that can make.

"That's why we're funding this project to help our friends in Malawi to develop their teaching infrastructure where they have just one qualified teacher for every 95 pupils, compared to our one for every 14.1 pupils.

"By helping increase the number of qualified teachers, and improve education standards, we will give growing numbers of youngsters the skills they need for a successful future."

Malawian Education Minister, the Hon Anna Kachikho, said:

"If Malawi is to develop, it needs an educated population, and it is rightly important that our primary schools - the foundation of education in Malawi - are well supported through the provision of properly trained teachers.

"The introduction of free primary education in Malawi in 1994 put enormous pressure on the Government for resources - for infrastructure, materials and teacher training.

"I am pleased that the Scottish Executive has agreed to fund a programme that will lead to highly trained primary school teachers, thereby alleviating the pressure arising from free primary education.

"This is the first time that Malawi will undertake a degree programme in primary education and we are confident that it will ensure a steady supply of professionally trained teachers."

Professor Julie Allan of the University of Stirling's Institute of Education at Stirling said:

"The scheme will provide excellent opportunities to pass on expertise to Malawi teachers. The Scottish academics involved will also learn a great deal from the experience and will develop their own capacities as teacher educators."

The Executive is providing £46,000 funding for 2007-08, with a further £67,000, £69,000, £72,000 and £58,000 for each of the four subsequent years. The intention is that the project will be sustainable by Malawi, at their own expense, beyond the pilot phase.

The introduction of free primary education in Malawi in 1994 saw the number of pupils increase from 1.9 million to 3.2 million, leading to a huge demand for teachers. Around 22,000 teachers, 18,000 of whom were untrained, were recruited.

Scotland and Malawi signed a co-operation agreement in November 2005 offering practical help to the African nation in areas such as health, education and economic development.

Malawi is one of the world's 10 poorest countries and the average life expectancy is 38. Seventy per cent of women are illiterate and 30 per cent of men.


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Stirling: Fluctuating Fortunes and Future Prospects of the Historic Fortress

Date released: Wednesday 8 November 2006

The historic city of Stirling will be the focus of this year’s Forth Naturalist and Historian Man and the Landscape Symposium. Stirling has a long and important history as one of Scotland’s most strategic settlements, in one of the greatest landscape settings.

This year’s event, which is being held in conjunction with Stirling City Heritage Trust, will look at the challenges and opportunities that Stirling faces as it develops as a city.

Speakers will address the following topics:


• Stirling’s environment, past and present
• Stirling’s forgotten histories
• Stirling’s heritage
• Regeneration of the Raploch
• Urban ecology and biodiversity
• The importance of natural heritage to the quality of life

The symposium will be held on Saturday 18 November at the University of Stirling and will mark the publication of the latest volume of the Forth Naturalist and Historian journal. All day tickets are priced £12, a half day £6. Booking forms are available at local libraries, museums and tourist Information offices as well as online at www.fnh.stir.ac.uk. You can also book at reception on the day.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Young kids obsessed with TV

Date released: Monday 6 November 2006

A joint study by psychologists at the University of Stirling and Glasgow has revealed young children’s obsession with television.

In a series of experiments, five- to eight-year-old children and adults were shown computer displays consisting of a face and an object. In the first experiment faces were paired with toys and household objects. Similar to previous studies with adults, all participants looked at the faces first. However this face bias was reversed in the second experiment when the object was a television set – the children looked at it first.

Researcher Dr Martin Doherty, a lecturer in Psychology at the University of Stirling, said: “The human face is a stimulus that is particularly adept at engaging an observer’s visual attention. Newborn infants already have a perceptual system that predisposes them to look at faces. Adults also show a face bias – if you flash up a picture of face and another object very quickly, people will look towards the face. What was interesting in this study was that when we paired faces with pictures of TV sets, the children looked at the TV sets instead.”

It would appear that TV sets are a powerful draw for children, who spend considerable time watching television from a very young age.

Joint researcher Dr Markus Bindemann, a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Glasgow, said: “We can only speculate why a television bias becomes apparent at this age, but according to the Broadcasters’ Audience Research Board (2003), the average British four- to six-year-old watches approximately 16 hours of television a week. Due to this exposure, televisions may become powerful stimuli in determining visual attention.”

The results of this study suggest that attention biases to faces depend on the stimuli with which they are compared.

Dr Doherty said: “The ability of televisions to compete with socially important stimuli such as faces does not imply that they are also special visual objects. It rather demonstrates that the observer has a particular interest in the object. For example, problem drinkers have been shown to have a bias for drink related objects.”

 

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Martin Doherty

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Could radio be key to Malawi's Teaching Crisis

Date released: Monday 6 November 2006

A Malawian man has won a Foreign and Commonwealth Office scholarship to investigate the potential use of radio to improve teaching and learning in Malawi.

Chester Shaba, who begins his PhD research at the University of Stirling’s Institute of Education this month, believes the medium could be used to boost educational standards in his home country where qualified teachers are scarce and technology is limited.

Mr Shaba said: “UNESCO’s Education for All initiative brought about great changes in Malawi’s education system, providing free primary education for the first time. We saw a 200 percent increase in schools, but this lead to a shortage of qualified teachers. Such was the crisis, many school teachers entered the profession directly from secondary schools without proper training and as a result education provision is well below international standards.”

Given the critical shortage, teachers are unable to leave the classroom to study which is where Mr Shaba’s idea of remote learning by radio comes in.

Mr Shaba, who is a qualified teacher and has also worked for the South African government’s Teacher Development Unit, said: "We know that technology can be effectively used to enhance teaching and radio is the cheapest and most widespread form of technology available in Malawi. Even rural schools that don’t have electricity and running water have a radio. The idea is that classroom lessons are presented in the form of radio programme, which offers teachers continuing professional development and gives pupils exposure to the expertise of a virtual teacher.”


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
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Chester Shaba

University of Stirling

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Rights, Freedom and Welfare in Economics - Lectures on Monday 6 November and Wednesday 15 November 2006

Date released: Friday 3 November 2006

Internationally renowned economist Professor Prasanta Pattanaik of the University of California (Riverside) will give two free public lectures on social welfare in economics this November. The Professor is currently in Scotland on a three-month Carnegie Trust Centenary Professorship with the University of Stirling.

Traditionally, the concept of social welfare has been based on a utilitarian foundation. Over the last few decades, however, this framework has been extended to accommodate non-welfaristic considerations such as those of individual rights and freedom. Professor Pattanaik will discuss the tensions between different values that have been highlighted in recent contributions in welfare economics.

Professor Pattanaik said: “About fifty years ago, John Hicks, a leading welfare economist who was to be later awarded a Nobel Prize, lamented that the concerns of welfare economists had been so exclusively 'welfaristic'. I suppose, he would have been happy to see that the scope of formal welfare economics has now become much wider so as to include, in addition to considerations of utility, issues relating to rights, freedom, and procedural fairness.”

Monday 6 November
Rights, Freedom and Welfare in Economics at 5.30pm at the Royal Society of Edinburgh (RSE), 22-26 George Street, Edinburgh. The event is free but tickets must be obtained from the RSE. Log onto: http://www.royalsoced.org.uk/events/forms/index.htm

Wednesday 15 November
The Concept of Welfare in Economics at 5.30pm at Logie Lecture Theatre, University of Stirling. The event is free and tickets are not required.


Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

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Deirdre Kennedy

University of Stirling

Stirling

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Tel: +44 (0)1786 467477


University Honours in Inverness - Friday 3 November 2006

Date released: Friday 3 November 2006

Scottish traditional music icon Phil Cunningham MBE and internationally renowned dementia expert Professor Mary Marshall OBE will be awarded honorary doctorates from the University of Stirling in Inverness today (Friday 3 November).

Widely regarded as one of the world’s most exciting and innovative accordion players, Phil Cunningham will be made Doctor of the University for his outstanding contribution to Scottish music both as a performer and a composer. The timing of the award is particularly poignant, as this year Phil celebrates 30 years in the music business.

Deputy Principal for Teaching & Learning, Professor Grant Jarvie said: “Phil is widely known for his early work with highly acclaimed Scottish band Silly Wizard (1976-1986) and performs to this day with musical partner and fellow Stirling honorary graduand Aly Bain (DUniv 2003) to sell-out audiences. He is also much sought after as a composer having written numerous traditional pieces, as well as two orchestral suites. His work with aspiring young Scots musicians is also to be commended, particularly his involvement in the Scottish Gaelic Arts Tuition Festivals.”

Having spent most of her professional life working to improve services for elderly people, Professor Mary Marshall will be made Doctor of the University for her outstanding contribution to the research and development of good practice in the field of dementia.

Professor Duncan Sim of the Department of Applied Social Science said: "Mary had a long career with Age Concern in both England and Scotland, before joining the University of Stirling in 1989 where she established the Dementia Services Development Centre. Under her direction for 15 years until 2005, the Centre is recognised internationally as a centre of excellence in the promotion of services for people with dementia. With a strong track record in research, Mary has also played a significant role in the development of government policy – for example, she participated in the Sutherland Commission which advocated free personal care for the elderly: a policy since adopted by the Scottish Executive.”

Phil Cunningham and Mary Marshall will receive their honours from University Chancellor, Dame Diana Rigg alongside more than 120 Nursing and Midwifery students who have successfully completed degree and diploma courses at the University’s Highland (Inverness) and Western Isles (Stornoway) campuses. The graduation ceremony will take place in St Andrew’s Cathedral, Inverness at 12 noon.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058


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Lesley Wilkinson

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0)1786 467058


Venezuelan Ambassador to Speak on Oil Markets - Friday 3 November 2006

Date released: Wednesday 1 November 2006

Oil markets and their role in determining political events all over the world will be the main theme of a lecture by Venezuela’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Alfredo Toro-Hardy on Friday November 3 at the University of Stirling.

Toro-Hardy is considered to be one of the top specialist and academic in Latin American Foreign relations and US-Latin American relations. He has been the Ambassador of Venezuela to the Court of St. James´ since 2001 and non-resident Ambassador to Ireland since 2002. He has also been Venezuela’s Representative to the International Organizations for Coffee and Cocoa since 2003.

The event, the first of a series of seminars on journalism and international relations organised by the Departments of Film & Media Studies and Politics, will take place in Pathfoot, Room D1 at 5pm.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058


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Jairo Lugo

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0)1786 466226


Managerial Remuneration - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly? - Inaugural Lecture, Wednesday 1 November 2006

Date released: Monday 31 October 2006

Professor Rezaul Kabir, who holds the Chair in Finance at the University of Stirling, will give his inaugural public lecture this week. The talk, entitled Managerial Remuneration - the Good, the Bad and the Ugly?, will take place in Logie Lecture Theatre on Wednesday 1 November, 5.30-6.30pm.

Professor Kabir will debate the benefits and pitfalls of managerial renumeration packages.

Speaking ahead of the lecture, he said: “Managerial remuneration is one of the several corporate governance mechanisms that are in play to ensure that managers of public corporations function properly. A remuneration package that includes an incentive component helps firms to align the interests of management with those of shareholders, and thus achieve a closer link between executive pay and corporate performance. A competitive and international labour market, where attracting and retaining qualified managers is a challenge, also necessitates provision of adequate remuneration.”

He added: “On the other hand, it is unfortunate that some managers receive enormous pay even when corporate performance reduces. More unfortunate is the fact that a few executives even make use of manipulative practices to increase or hide the amount of actual pay. Corporate pay scandals involving managerial opportunistic actions can be avoided if strong internal governance and full and timely disclosures take place. Appropriate measures of firm performance and benchmark criteria to evaluate relative performance should be decided beforehand. In addition, firms should link executive pay more closely to performance measured over a long time-period. The remuneration amount disclosed in annual reports may not ignore any valuable component. The costs of all pay components for the firm should also be fully reported. These measures will make it less likely that pay amounts are 'camouflaged' from the eyes of investors.”

Academic research on pay-performance relationship does not provide any clear-cut evidence. It is believed that equity-based incentives play the major driving force behind a positive relationship. On the other hand, there are studies that document a negative or no pay-performance relationship.

Lesley Wilkinson (née Pollock)
Media Relations Manager
(01786) 467058

 

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Professor Rezaul Kabir

University of Stirling

Stirling

FK9 4LA
Scotland

UK

telephone

Tel: +44 (0)1786 467296