Are universities losing the culture war? From the doctors and nurses in our hospitals to the teachers in our schools and the scientists developing vaccines, universities train the professionals who form the backbone of our society. So why, in recent times, have universities fallen out of favour with Government ministers and the media? What can the sector do to prove its worth and help the nation in the recovery from the pandemic and beyond?
Diana Beech is CEO of London Higher, Richard Brabner is Director of UPP Foundation, Jane Britton is Director of Communications and External Affairs at the University of Worcester and David Green is their Vice Chancellor.
Disinformation is one of the most pressing and urgent social and political challenges of our times. Almost every high-profile event or issue seems to act as a magnet for disinformation campaigns and influence operations, ranging from democratic elections to the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
Director at Cardiff University Crime and Security Research Institute Martin Innes investigates how disinformation campaigns are organised and conducted. Informed by a large-scale international research programme exploring disinformation and its impacts across diverse settings and situations, he uses several key ‘real world’ examples to illuminate the key components of how digital disinformation campaigns are run, and what can be done to limit their harms.
Dr Leor Zmigrod, Research Fellow at the University of Cambridge, discusses how political neuroscience can increase our understanding of extremist behaviour and how to tackle it. Her research combines methods from experimental psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience to investigate the psychology of ideological adherence and group identity formation. She focuses on investigating cognitive characteristics that might act as vulnerability factors for radicalisation and ideologically-motivated behaviour.
A diary by its very nature is an intensely personal thing. In early March 2020, the CoronaDiaries project was launched to record people’s everyday experiences of the Covid-19 pandemic. Drawing on these personal accounts – the everyday voices of the coronavirus pandemic – Michael Ward shows that this pandemic has been experienced in very different ways across society.
Cambridge economist Professor Diane Coyle explores the enormous problems – and opportunities – facing economics today if it is to respond effectively to the ongoing disruption of the technology revolution and help policymakers solve the world’s crises, from pandemic recovery and inequality to slow growth and the climate emergency.
Dylan Huw works bilingually across criticism, fiction and collaborative projects, and is one of the Arts Council of Wales' Future Wales Fellows. Crystal Jeans, short story writer and novelist, won the Wales Book of the Year for her novel Light Switches Are My Kryptonite. David Llewellyn, novelist and scriptwriter, was shortlisted for the Polari Prize with A Simple Scale. Kirsti Bohata, Professor of English Literature and the Co-Director of the Centre for Research into the English Language and Literature at Swansea University, maps the importance of the short story form in the development and portrayal of queer culture to mark the publication of a groundbreaking anthology of queer writing from Wales.
A recent report from the charity Student Minds revealed that 74% of students felt the pandemic had had a negative impact on their mental health. How can we help individuals and colleges to tackle this issue? A new book, Preventing and Responding to Student Suicide – A Practical Guide for FE and HE Settings, offers a variety of approaches.
Tim Jones is Acting Pro Vice Chancellor Students at University of Worcester, where Jo Smith is Emeritus Professor; Nic Streatfield is Director of Student Life and Wellbeing at the University of York, Sarah Gordon, is a member of Student Minds’ Student Advisory Committee and Rosie Tressler is CEO of Student Minds.
The Cambridge politics professor, author of Confronting Leviathan: A History of Ideas, shows how crises – revolutions, wars, depressions, pandemics – have generated new ways of political thinking and how the history of ideas can help make sense of what’s happening today.
Is abortion law a litmus test for democracy and the rule of law? Adequate protection of reproductive rights should be viewed as an essential element of the legal fabric of democratic society, argues the academic. She examines the relationship between reproductive rights, democracy, and the rule of law, taking as a case study, Poland, which, like Hungary, Brazil, USA, has experienced two processes: anti-constitutional backsliding and restrictive abortion reforms. Long before these processes became apparent the implementation of reproductive rights, especially by doctors and law enforcement agencies, indicated that the rule of law was weakly institutionalised.
The external pressure to modify our bodies is overwhelming. In Intact, the Cambridge philosopher analyses the social forces behind the issue. While defending the right of anyone to choose how they look, she argues that the urging to ‘improve’ ourselves sends the message: ‘you are not good enough’. She interrogates the personal harm and psychological damage being done to men, women and children, stating that such pressures are discriminatory by race, gender, disability and age. To illustrate, she gives examples from ‘nearly nude’ make-up to male circumcision, from body-building to breast implants, and parental rights to change their children’s bodies. In conversation with Fiona Fox, author and Science Media Centre Chief Executive.