University of Stirling

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News Archive

August 2010

BBC films Stirling bumblebee activity day

University in local partnership to make communities safer

Global health partnership to link rural communities in Scotland and Ghana

Top American award for Stirling child protection expert

Stirling Scientist launches study on the UK’s happiness

University lecturer appointed Chief Advisor to The President of the Croatian Republic

Stirling in UK Top Ten for Student Satisfaction

Japanese social work experts to visit Scotland

Soil science researcher wins poster award

Academics still influential in public life, says new research

Stirling ranks highly for environment research

Internationally renowned memory expert delivers Stirling’s 2010 John Damien Lecture


Performance artist Anneliese finds bees entertaining

BBC films Stirling bumblebee activity day

Date released: Wednesday 3 August 2010

On Wednesday 18 August the Bumblebee Conservation Trust is holding a multimedia family activity day to tell people more about bumblebees. A BBC film crew will video the event and the general public are invited along.

Dr Ben Darvill, Director of the Trust, explains: “Bridge of Allan and Stirling residents are invited to learn more about bees and the work that we do to conserve them. The event will take place on the University’s campus, from 1-5pm. 

“There will be an illustrated talk about bees, a fun ‘eco-edutainment’ presentation of poems and music by performance artist Anneliese Emmans Dean and a short introduction to bumblebee identification using photos and colourful charts. Weather permitting, we’ll also take a short walk outside to try and see some live bumblebees and practice our skills. It should be a fun day!”

Although the crew will be making a short film about the work that the Conservation Trust does, no one will be expected to perform for the cameras. However you may be included in group training scenes, so just might appear on TV!

The planned activities are suitable for adults and children aged 7 and above but children must be supervised. Numbers are limited so please book your place by emailing enquiries@bumblebeeconservation.org or phoning 01786 467818. BOOKING IS ESSENTIAL.

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust aims to educate people about the ‘plight of the bumblebee’ and what they can do to help. The charity was established in 2006 with the help of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. Their conservation work has now been shortlisted for the National Lottery Awards scheme and the video feature will appear during the awards ceremony, to be broadcast live on the Saturday 4 September.

Readers can help the Stirling-based charity win an award by voting online at the National Lottery Awards website:  http://www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards/

Gardeners in the Stirling area can do their bit to help bumblebees by growing the right kinds of flowers throughout the year; many fancy varieties are of little use to wildlife and cottage garden plants and wildflowers are best.

Picture caption: Performance artist Anneliese finds bees entertaining

For more information visit www.bumblebeeconservation.org

Notes to editors

The Bumblebee Conservation Trust is a national membership-based charity (no. 1115634) which aims to help bumblebees through conservation and education. People can join to support their work, and learn more about these fascinating creatures

  • The National Lottery Awards are an annual search to find the UK's favourite Lottery-funded projects. Lottery players raise £25 million each week for Good Causes, and the Awards are a great way to highlight how that funding has changed the UK for the better.
  • Public voting for the finals of The National Lottery Awards is now open via the Lottery Awards Website. Voting closes at midday on 13 August.
  • The project in each category that receives the most votes will be the winner, and the results will be revealed on a special Awards event broadcast on BBC One on the 4th September.
  • Scotland has 18 species of ‘true’ bumblebee, and a further 6 species of ‘cuckoo bumblebee’, which parasitize the nests of other species.
  • Gardeners can make a significant difference by growing the right kinds of flowers throughout the year – many fancy varieties are of little use to wildlife. Cottage garden plants and wild flowers are best. A list of recommended species can be found on the BBCT website (www.bumblebeeconservation.org)
  • Bumblebees naturally nest in disused rodent burrows or tussocky grass. They do not swarm, are non-aggressive and only sting if handled roughly.
  • They hibernate underground, tunnelling in to soft soil. They can sometimes be found in the compost in plant pots.
  • Bumblebees are often referred to as a “keystone species” because without their pollination many plants would cease to be fertilised and this could lead to knock-on changes for plant communities, invertebrates, mammals, birds etc.

For more information or photographs, please contact Ben Darvill, Director, Bumblebee Conservation Trust  on 01786 467819 or email: enquiries@bumblebeeconservation.org


University in local partnership to make communities safer

Date released: Wednesday 4 August 2010

The University of Stirling has joined forces with other local organisations to counter incidents aggravated by hatred, as part of a new three-year strategy which aims to make communities safer. The Multi-Agency Hate Response Strategy (MAHRS) will focus on those individuals who become victims of intimidation, harassment or physical assault.

The partnership includes Central Scotland Police; Central Scotland Fire & Rescue Service; Clackmannanshire, Falkirk and Stirling Councils; NHS Forth Valley; Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service; Victim Support; Central Scotland Racial Equality Council and Forth Valley College.

Previously, partners were involved in the Racial Attacks and Harassment Multi-Agency Strategy (RAHMAS), which focused solely on racist incidents. However the new partnership will focus on five strands of diversity – race, religion, disability, sexual orientation or transgender identity – which can all be the subject of hate crime.

The group recently launched the new strategy for 2010-2013 with the aim of promoting understanding and recording of hate incidents, identifying trends, putting co-ordinated action plans in place to deal with the issues and providing high levels of victim care.

Professor Neil Keeble, Senior Deputy Principal and Chair of the University’s Diversity and Equal Opportunities Executive Group (DEOEG) said: “At the University of Stirling, we are delighted to have the opportunity to strengthen further our partnership work with organisations in the Forth Valley area through the delivery of the MAHRS Strategy.

“The University is strongly committed to promoting equality and diversity and to tackling harassment and unlawful discrimination, including hate incidents. The aims of the Strategy are consistent with the objectives of our Single Equality Scheme, and we look forward to continuing to work in partnership with the MAHRS agencies to fulfil these aims."

While levels of hate incidents within Central Scotland have increased in recent years, analysis has shown that this rise is largely due to improved reporting procedures and increased confidence amongst victims.

Assistant Chief Constable Gordon Samson, who chairs the MAHRS steering group, said: “There is a long history in Central Scotland of partners and communities working well together to address the issue of crime motivated by intolerance, prejudice and hatred.

“Those who think it is acceptable to commit a criminal act against another individual because of homophobia, transphobia, religious bigotry, racism or disability related prejudice need to realise that this behaviour has no place within our communities.

“Anyone who believes they have been a victim of an incident motivated by hate can have confidence in reporting it to the authorities and of receiving a professional service. The welfare of any victim is treated with a high priority and the joint approach ensures the right level of response is given to this very serious issue.”

Notes to editors:

  • The implementation of the Strategy will be coordinated by the University’s Diversity and Equality Opportunities Executive group as part of its work to deliver the Single Equality Scheme.
  • For further information about the Strategy, contact the University's Poly and Governance Officer on ext: 6890 or email equality@stir.ac.uk
  • For further information about what is done in Central Scotland to tackle hate crime and improve reporting of such incidents, click on: www.stophateincentralscotland.org.uk

Global health partnership to link rural communities in Scotland and Ghana

Date released: Wednesday 4 August 2010

The University of Stirling has secured a three year funding deal to develop a global health partnership to address the unique issues and challenges of remote and rural healthcare workers in rural Ghana and rural Scotland. 

The collaboration brings together NHS Highland and the University’s Institute for People Centred Healthcare Management (an inter-disciplinary partnership between the Department of Nursing and Midwifery and Stirling Management School) with Ghana’s Ministry of Health and University of Development Studies (UDS).

A total of £60,000 has been awarded to this partnership by the Development Partnerships in Higher Education (DelPHE) research funding project, which is managed by the British Council and funded by the UK Government's Department for International Development (DfID). DelPHE supports a variety of collaborations between Higher Education Institutions enabling them to engage in activities linked to sustainable development and poverty reduction.

The funding injection will allow for expansion in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) through the development of materials and events, knowledge exchange and support, along with education, training and development of mental health and midwifery health workers in remote and rural areas of Ghana and Scotland.

The new project will build upon two years of research and partnership building with Ghana’s Ministry of Health, professional health workers, nurse and medical educators and research staff, already undertaken by Stirling Nursing and Midwifery lecturer Mrs Anne Mason, who is based at the University’s Highland Campus in Inverness.

Anne Mason said: “Building partnerships like this requires time to develop friendship and trust. This has demanded extraordinary teamwork and commitment involving a number of key partners, particularly NHS Highland and more recently NHS Education for Scotland.  We have been operating at both grassroots and strategic levels for several years with support from our organisations, with funding from sources such as the NHS Highland Endowment Fund, the Tropical Health Education Trust, the British Medical Association Humanitarian Fund, and individual fundraising.

“The Highlands has similar issues to our Ghanaian partners; resource scarcity and administrative lag – the main difference is in magnitude. Staff issues are paramount; recruitment, retention and training challenges. The key question is how to deliver quality healthcare to a dispersed population. Both countries recognise the need to build workforce capacity through locally delivered healthcare education. The DelPHE grant will allow partners to meet and collaborate on how to embrace these challenges.” 

Stirling Institute for People Centred Healthcare Management Chair Dr Mike Walsh said: “This project cements the partnership with the Ministry of Health in Ghana and is an example of the way that the Stirling Institute for People-Centered Healthcare Management is dedicated to seeking action and learning that empowers all those who need, use or produce healthcare.”

The first step of the partnership will be a fact finding visit to Accra and Tamale in Ghana by Institute staff in September to meet with UDS and other partners. This visit will examine CPD programmes and deliver shared research training.

For further information:

Dr Mike Walsh 01786 467322 m.p.walsh@stir.ac.uk

Mrs Anne Mason 01463 255623 acm5@stir.ac.uk

 


Top American award for Stirling child protection expert Professor Dalgleish receiving his award from John Fluke.

Date released: Thursday 5 August 2010

The University of Stirling’s Professor of Decision Making, Professor Len Dalgleish (pictured left) has received the American Humane Association’s highest honour for his work on child protection. The Vincent De Francis award, which has been awarded just 18 times in its 34 year history, recognises those with the vision and commitment to reach across disciplines to improve child welfare systems on a national level.

Professor Dalgleish said: “I am both surprised and thrilled to be receiving the award,” and added: “I am deeply touched and gratified.”

Ahead of the award presentation, John Fluke (pictured right), Director of American Humane’s Child Protection Research Centre, said: “Professor Dalgleish’s research on child welfare decision making has made an important contribution in tying together decision making theory toward the improvement of outcomes for children and families who are involved with the child welfare system.

“His work in developing the General Assessment and Decision Making model has provided a foundation for helping to focus child welfare decision making research and for improving child protection practice and policy in the US and internationally.”

As Professor of Decision Making, Len Dalgleish is programme lead for the Participation and Decision Making Research programme within the University’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery. Speaking of Len’s contribution to the field of child protection, Head of Department, Professor William Lauder said: “In the early 1980s, Professor Dalgleish started to apply the theories and methods of psychology of decision making to key decisions in child protection such a ‘removal of the child from the family’ and ‘reunification’. He also worked on how risk in child protection could be thought about and developed practice tools – both for assessing risk and for linking assessments to decisions about action.

“His research found that practitioners had different cut-points for acceptable risk, so that even though two people may agree on the risk, they disagree about what to do about it. He developed workshop tools to make these cut-points explicit, enabling people to discuss them. His contribution to improving child protection cannot be overstated and the Department of Nursing and Midwifery are proud to have this award made to a colleague.”

John Fluke presented the award to Professor Dalgleish on Wednesday 4 August in a ceremony in the University’s Iris Murdoch Building.

It is with great sadness that the University reports that following the awards ceremony Professor Dalgleish lost his battle against leukaemia. Reflecting on the sad news of Len's death on Sunday 8 August, Professor Catherine Niven said: “Len changed the way we think about decision making in healthcare. He was the most wonderful collaborator, and many of us who were lucky enough to collaborate, be taught, supervised or mentored by him hugely benefitted from his intellectual generosity. His personal and professional contribution to the University and beyond will be greatly missed.”

Notes to editors:

Founded in 1877, the Denver-based American Humane Association is the only American organization dedicated to protecting both children and animals from abuse and neglect through public policy, education and services reaching a wide network of organizations and advocates. Programs include raising awareness about The Link® between violence to people and violence to animals, as well as the benefits derived from the human-animal bond.

The organization is also known for “No Animals Were Harmed,”® the end-credit disclaimer seen on film and TV productions. American Humane® Certified is the nation’s largest and most regarded independent standards and certification program for farm animal welfare. American Humane earned the Independent Charities of America’s “Best in America” Seal of Approval and is an American Institute of Philanthropy “Top-Rated Charity.” Learn more at www.americanhumane.org For further information on the Vincent De Francis Award see: http://www.americanhumane.org/protecting-children/vincent-de-francis.html

Professor Dalgleish has published two books, Out of options: A cognitive model of adolescent suicide and risk taking and Implications of marital separation for young children. He has been a keynote speaker at ten international conferences, focusing on  his research in decision making and its applications in child protection, nursing philosophy, climate forecasting, and legal judging. He has served on the editorial board of Child Abuse Review and is currently on the editorial board of Medical Decision Making. A full summary of his research activity can be viewed here:  http://www.nm.stir.ac.uk/people/len-dalgleish.php


Stirling Scientist launches study on the UK’s happiness

Date released: Wednesday 18 August 2010Dr Tracy Alloway

Are you an optimist or a pessimist – and what does it mean for your mental health? We’d like to think that everyone is deliriously happy all the time, but in reality we know you’re not. So to try and gain a deeper insight, Dr Tracy Alloway (pictured right) from the University of Stirling in partnership with the British Science Association is launching a study of Britain’s brains, testing our working memory in relation to our mental health.

Ideally we want people from all over the UK to get involved so that we can give an accurate (as possible) picture of the whole country and the results from this pioneering research will be revealed at the British Science Festival in Birmingham this September.

Our site ‘Neuromantics’ (www.neuromantics.co.uk) has a study on working memory, (the ability to remember and manually process information) called ‘the Memory Game’. We are using this game to see if there is a link between your working memory, your outlook on life and the incidence of depression.

People with superior working memory tend to have better jobs, better relationships, and lead happier lives. People with poor working memory tend to struggle in their working and personal lives and are more likely to have trouble with the law. A growing number of studies exist linking memory with mental health. In a recent survey conducted with 20-year-olds, Dr. Tracy Alloway from the University of Stirling, who is leading this research showed that those whose outlook of the world is ‘glass half-empty’ but have good working memory are less likely to suffer from depression than those whose view is ‘half empty’ but have poor working memory.

Tracy said; ‘Are you an optimist or a pessimist? Do you see the glass as half full or half empty? With this study, we want to investigate how important working memory can be to your levels of happiness and how it could change your outlook on life.’


The findings from Neuromantics will be presented at the British Science Festival, Birmingham on 14-19 September.

Notes for editors

The British Science Association is the UK's nationwide, open membership organisation that exists to advance the public understanding, accessibility and accountability of the sciences and engineering. Established in 1831, the British Science Association organises major initiatives across the UK, including National Science and Engineering Week, the annual British Science Festival, programmes of regional and local events, and an extensive programme for young people in schools and colleges. The Association also organises specific activities for the science communication community in the UK through its Science in Society programme.

For more information visit www.britishscienceassociation.org.

For further information, on the British Science Festival visit www.britishsciencefestival.org.


Dr Tracy Alloway is the Director of the Centre for Memory and Learning in the Lifespan at the University of Stirling.  She is the author of over 75 scientific articles and books on working memory and learning, and has developed the world’s first standardized working-memory tests for educators published by Pearson. Her research has received widespread international coverage, appearing in outlets such as the Guardian, Daily Mail, Scientific American, Forbes, US News, ABC News, and NBC. She is an advisor to the World Bank on the impact of memory and learning in deprived populations. She was the 2009 winner of the prestigious Joseph Lister Award by the British Science Association for bringing her scientific discoveries to a wide audience. Tracy’s research focuses on how working memory impacts learning in typically developing children, as well as in those with ADHD, Autism, Language Impairments, Dyspraxia, and Learning Disabilities.

 


University lecturer appointed Chief Advisor to The President of the Croatian RepublicDr Dejan Jovic

Date released: Wednesday 18 August 2010

A University of Stirling lecturer has been appointed Chief Adviser to Ivo Josipovic, President of the Republic of Croatia. Dr Dejan Jovic (pictured right), a Croatian national, has lectured at the University’s School of History and Politics for the last 10 years. He was appointed to his new post in February, one month after the President’s election, and is seconded to Zagreb for two years.

“My responsibilities will include working on policy analysis, together with analysis of political trends, from an international rather than a domestic perspective,” says Dr Jovic, who first met Croatia’s new president back in 2003 and spent an hour or two in conversation with him. Since then, further meetings have afforded more insight into Croatia’s newly elected leader. So how does Dr Jovic anticipate that this working relationship will develop?

“The president is not a career diplomat,” he comments. “He is an academic, a professor of international criminal law, as well as a professor of music and a composer. Unlike some of his predecessors, Josipovic is a relatively quiet man. He remains very popular since his election over six months ago and presently enjoys a 79% approval rate.

“I am apolitical but would probably describe myself as ‘centre left’ on the political spectrum. He is President of the Republic – that effectively places him above politics. We have similar academic interests and my sense is that we hold common views in many issues.”

However Dr Jovic acknowledges that his appointment will present many opportunities – and challenges. “The President has many experts to advise him on international relations and foreign policy, but of necessity, their input operates at an immediate, day-to-day level. However, given the demands of government, the President has little opportunity to think and plan strategically – a function which in many other countries, is fulfilled by think tanks.  I will be assisting him in that process, helped by a small team of Croatian PhD students.

“I will be positioned outside of the President’s immediate advisory circle, which is many ways will be an advantage. It means that, rather than being  ‘confined ‘ by the realities of any prevailing situation, I will be able to focus on what might be possible vis-à-vis new perspectives opening up. However I realise that it is difficult to have input unless one has access to the President, which is why I have an office within the presidential compound.

“At the same time, I must deal with the dilemma which constantly visits fellow academics – whether we should get involved with politics in this way. One train of thought says we should stay at a distance, in order to remain impartial and objective on the subject. Another train of thought is that we cannot entirely understand politics unless we have some practical experience of it.

He added: “Another challenge lies in the fact that the President has legitimacy by direct vote and it is entirely his decision which advice to take and which to ignore. While a recommendation I make may be a good idea in principle, there might be many reasons why it cannot be acted upon. Therefore I will have to be constantly aware of the political context in which I offer advice."

This is not an entirely new departure for Dr Jovic, who was adviser to Croatia’s Foreign Minister from 2004 to 2006. “That role operated at a lower intensity level and the Foreign Minister would seek my input on specific topics. In this new role, my brief is quite wide-ranging across foreign policy, national security and defence. I am expected to prepare new initiatives, and monitor the work of international think tanks. I will be required to flag up issues which are developing in other countries, mindful that what are regarded as ‘hot’ issues for some countries may be unimportant for others. I will also be expected to create and maintain links with the Croatian academic world.”

Zagreb and the presidential compound promises a vastly different experience from Dr Jovic’s home in Bridge of Allan and his work at the university campus, from where he has been given a two-year leave of absence. 

“I am definitely looking forward to my new role and to complementing the President’s advisory team, without being directly involved in their work. That is important if I am to retain academic integrity. I will always regard myself as an academic who has an interest in politics but who is not political. This is not a change of profession!

“Added to which, I like living in Scotland. So while I may be going home, my visit is purely temporary.”


Stirling in UK Top Ten for Student Satisfaction

Date released: Wednesday 18 August 2010

Satisfaction levels for Stirling students have risen for the third year in a row, according to the National Student Survey, putting the University in the UK's top ten of comparable universities.

The resounding vote of confidence in the University was welcomed by Senior Deputy Principal Professor Neil Keeble, who said: “I am delighted that so many students continue to rate their experience of Stirling so highly. Student feedback and input is vital and this independent survey is a useful indicator of how well we are doing in our commitment to improving the student experience. However, we can always aim higher and will be looking closely at the detail of this year’s survey, taking action and making improvements in response to what our students are saying.”

The National Student Survey measures satisfaction by asking final year students to rate a range of criteria from teaching to IT. In answer to the key question*, a resounding 89 per cent of Stirling students said they were satisfied with the overall quality of their course, up from 88 per cent last year and 86 per cent two years ago. The latest figures rank Stirling equal third in Scotland with Aberdeen, just behind St Andrews and Glasgow. Rated against comparable universities in the UK, Stirling is equal ninth, while the extended table including higher education institutions sees Stirling in 15th position.

The University hopes to improve its satisfaction score even further next year with its new £13.9 million state-of-the-art library, which is due to open its doors to students shortly.

Mark Charters, Vice-President of the University of Stirling Students' Union, said: "On behalf of the Students' Union I am very pleased to see that year-on-year student satisfaction has increased. I would also take this opportunity to congratulate all University staff, whose hard work has helped improve the student experience for student here at Stirling. I know that they will be as keen as we are to see continued improvement in those areas which we can all work together to enhance yet further. The new Library development will no doubt bolster the results next year in related areas and the Union looks forward to working with all University colleagues to make both the learning experience and overall student experience of students better here at Stirling."

The findings back up recent accolades for Stirling, including the Sunday Times Scottish University of the Year and a national Times Higher Education award for the quality of registry service it provides to students.

The National Student Survey is targeted mostly at final year undergraduates and provides students with an opportunity to make their opinions on their higher education student experience count at a national level. The results are analysed and used to compile a year on year comparison of data which helps prospective students make informed choices of where and what to study, and enables the participating institutions to identify and improve in areas where they may have let their students down.

The full National Student Survey results are published at: www.unistats.com.

* Students answered ‘mostly agree’ or ‘definitely agree’ to the question ‘Overall, I am satisfied with the quality of the course’. Most Scottish universities performed above the UK average of 83%, as follows:

1 St Andrews 93%
2 Glasgow 90%
3= Stirling 89%
3= Aberdeen 89%
5= Dundee 87%
5= Heriot-Watt 87%
7= Strathclyde 86%
7= Edinburgh 86%
8 Robert Gordon 84%
9 Glasgow Caledonian 83%
10 Napier 80%

To see the UK rankings, which also include some colleges of higher education, visit:

www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/article2055078.ece

 


 

Japanese social work experts to visit Scotland

Date released: Thursday 19 August 2010

Five distinguished social work and social policy academics from Japan are coming to Scotland in September to discuss their experiences with their British counterparts.

Over a series of seminars they will explore and compare the impact of NPM (new public management) ideas, policies and practices on professional social work in the United Kingdom and in Japan.

Through a comparison of the experience of professional social work in Britain and Japan, the seminar series will address the following questions:

• In what ways and to what extent have the dominant managerial policies of the past two decades transformed professional social work practice in Britain and Japan?

• How has the profession responded to these changes, and what possibilities exist for the emergence of new and different forms of social work practice rooted in concepts of social justice?

As NPM has been widely implemented across the public sector, the seminar series, on 6 and 7 September 2010 at the Stirling Management Centre, is likely to be of interest to academics and the social policy research community generally. It will be followed by a reciprocal visit by British academics to Japan next spring.

The seminar series is open to interested academics, practitioners and service users and is FREE. However, there are a limited number of places. If you would like to attend all, or part, of the seminar, please complete the online registration form on the Seminar Website at  www.dass.stir.ac.uk/old-site/esrc-jsps/

The series is jointly funded by the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council) and JSPS (Japan Society for the Promotion of Science). The funding was awarded to Dr Iain Ferguson and Ms Rona Woodward, of the Department of Applied Social Science at the University of Stirling, one of only two awards on this theme for the whole of the UK.

Japanese contributors will include:

Professor Akira Namae, Nihon Fukushi University;

Associate Professor Fumihito Ito, Nihon Fukushi University;

Associate Professor Tadanao Harata, Nihon Fukushi University;

Associate Professor Hiroshi Kosaka, Aichi Gakusen University;

Associate Professor Hiroshi Ando, Sugiyama Women's University.

British contributors will include:

Dr Iain Ferguson; University of Stirling;

Rona Woodward, University of Stirling;

Dr Mark Baldwin, University of Bath;

Dr Michael Lavalette, Liverpool Hope University;

Professor Peter Beresford, Brunel University;

Professor Sarah Banks, Durham University;

Professor John Harris, University of Warwick.

For further information contact Dr Iain Ferguson


Soil science researcher wins poster award

Date released: Thursday, 19 August 2010

Kirsty Golding with poster award

Dr Kirsty Golding, a post-doctoral researcher based within the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences, has received the Springer best poster award at the World Congress of Soil Science. At the congress, held in Brisbane on 1-6 August, her winning poster beat over 1400 other entries.

Entitled ‘The historical legacy of anthrosols at Sandhavn, south Greenland’, it features Leverhulme-funded research on the impact of Norse settlement and farming on the landscape of Greenland.

In presenting this research the co-authors Dr Kirsty Golding and Professor Ian Simpson raise awareness within the wider soil science community of the growing importance of cultural soils in historical landscape investigations.

Read their full paper at:www.sbes.stir.ac.uk/people/golding/documents/HistoricallegacyofanthrosolsatsandhavnsouthGreenland.pdf

 


Academics still influential in public life, says new research

Date released: Thursday 19 August 2010

David Griffiths

Academics are still influential in high places, but it's mainly professors from the elite Russell Group who are prominent, new research says.

Dr Dave Griffiths, a sociologist at the University of Stirling, found that academics featured prominently on the boards of quangos and public corporations. His work contradicts previous studies suggesting that academic influence on decision-making had declined since the days of the Thatcher government.

Dr Griffiths looked at 2,858 directors of 187 quango and public corporations, ranging in size from the BBC to the British Potato Council. All the quangos had an England-wide or UK-wide responsibility.

In a paper in the journal Sociology, published by the British Sociological Association and SAGE, he found that 200 of the directors were, or had been, academics.

These 200 academics were, between them, sitting on 84 of the 187 quangos. Of the 200, over half were in the Russell Group of 20 elite universities, and all but 14 were professors.

Dr Griffiths found that the academics were more interested in developing their careers within academia rather than seeking power outside it: most of the positions they had taken were either sitting on research councils or scientific or local organisations.

"The sociological history of the 20th century has often bemoaned the declining social position of the British academics, holding cherished positions as the nation’s moral guardians at the start of the century, diminishing to mere onlookers and reviewers at its end," Dr Griffiths says in the paper, entitled: 'Academic Influence Amongst the UK Public Elite'.

He notes that while academic salaries had fallen from 3.7 times the average of those working in manufacturing in 1928 to 1.5 times in 1988, his research had found that academics were still seen as having a prestigious occupation.

"It appears professors, particularly at the most prestigious universities, continue to enjoy such high social positions. Professors can be shown to be continuing to hold their high public profile and social influence, which have not been undermined by the expansion of higher education and alterations in quango board composition. Opportunities for academics to form part of the British social elite remain clearly evident.

"The prestige of academics appears influential amongst those operating at the centre of the quasi-political classes. The ability to influence the most influential, or most able to transfer ideas and values, demonstrates the ethos stemming from academia is widely transmitted through public bodies. However, it is the voice of the professors, rather than their less senior colleagues, which appear represented."

Dr Griffiths also analysed how the quangos were connected with each other by noting how many had directors who were the alumni of the same elite school or who were trustees of the same charity. He found that academics tended to sit on those quangos that were better connected, and suggested that "this demonstrates academics are sitting on those quangos which enable access to elite circles, and rarely occupy those distant from such levels of integration."


Stirling ranks highly for environment research

Date released: Friday 20 August 2010

The University of Stirling’s research into the environment and ecology is among the most influential in Britain, according to new data.

The impact of research from over 500 institutions around the world has been measured through the Essential Science Indicators database of Thomson Reuters, which evaluated the number and quality of research citations in academic journals over a ten year period.

In this ranking Stirling is 20th in the UK and second in Scotland.

Professor Ian Simpson, Deputy Principal for Research and Knowledge Transfer, said: “This excellent ranking clearly demonstrates the huge influence that Stirling has and the importance of its work in the international environment and ecology research arena.

“It is a real tribute to the intellectual curiosity, skills, enthusiasm and commitment of all colleagues in the School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, the Institute of Aquaculture and the Department of Computing Science and Mathematics.”

Environment and ecology represents a range of fields including biodiversity, climate change, environmental toxicology, fishery studies, hydrology and water studies, plant sciences and forestry studies, soil science and zoology.

 


Internationally renowned memory expert delivers Stirling’s 2010 John Damien Lecture

Date released: Wednesday 25 August 2010

Professor Martin Conway

The University of Stirling is pleased to announce that the annual John Damien Lecture will be given this year by renowned cognitive psychologist, Professor Martin Conway. His lecture entitled: ‘Remembering and Forgetting: Autobiographical Memories in Health and in Illness’, will be delivered in the Logie Lecture Theatre on Wednesday 15 September 2010 at 6pm.

The John Damien lecture is an annual public lecture established by the University’s Psychology Department, to present researchers of international standing who have made a significant contribution to the discipline.

A founder of the internationally recognised Leeds Memory Group and Director of the Institute of Psychological Sciences at the University of Leeds, Professor Conway has studied human memory for over 25 years. Speaking of his forthcoming lecture, he said: “In this talk I consider the proposition that if information gets into long-term memory, then it may be the case that that information is never lost. This is something of an extreme position, based on some new and particularly interesting findings from amnesic patients.”

His lecture will include information on recent research which indicates that memories can be cued by images captured by new Microsoft camera technology called SenseCam. It is work which has far reaching implications for normal memory.

Professor Conway enjoys an international reputation for research into autobiographical memory and his opinions as a memory expert witness have been sought in many legal cases being heard in UK Crown Courts and at the Royal Courts of Appeal, as well as being consulted on cases internationally.

His current research interests include autobiographical memory; impairments of memory following brain injury; disruptions of memory in psychiatric illness, and changes in memory across the lifespan. He has authored and edited several books on human memory and regularly publishes in international memory journals.

These achievements sit comfortably alongside the Professor’s earlier work experience as a fifteen-year-old school leaver, factory worker and apprentice boilersmith. In the 1960s, he dumped his apprenticeship and hit the hippie trail, before becoming a train driver. He finally sat 3 A-levels at night classes and went on to study Psychology as a mature student at University College, London.

During his degree course, he developed an interest in how knowledge was represented in long-term memory and this led to him taking a PhD place on a full time SSRC scholarship at the Open University. His doctorate resulted in the offer of a research position at the Medical Research Council’s Applied Psychology Unit in Cambridge.

What Professor Conway did not realise on accepting the position was that he had joined one of the world’s leading psychological research centres: or that, after five ‘momentous’ years spent working with this Unit, his international reputation would be established. 

The John Damien lecture is being hosted by Professor David Donaldson, a memory researcher who works at Stirling. He said, “I am delighted that Martin has agreed to come and speak to us here in Stirling; not only is he an international star in the field of memory research, he is also an accomplished and engaging public speaker. I know that both experts and novices to the field of memory will learn something from his talk, and that he will provide a fascinating insight into one of our most basic mental abilities.”

This is a public lecture, admission is free and anyone with an interest in the subject is invited to come along. However the John Damien lecturesare ticketed events and typically over-subscribed.  If you wish to attend, please contact Katie Hamilton on 01786 467640 or by email: psych-enquiries@stir.ac.uk to book your place.