Author Archives: Angie Valinoti

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“Do you get the summer off?” What DO the staff get up to when the students are away?

“It must be wonderful working at a university with that long summer break.” That’s something you’ll hear a lot if you ever choose a career in higher education. For three months between the end of the summer term and the start of the next academic year, it would be nice to think that we all relaxed in hammocks with a glass of something chilled on hand. So students are often surprised when they find out how busy the staff they leave behind for the summer are.

Graduations

We like to see off the graduating final year and PhD students in style. As well as their formal congregation ceremonies in Canterbury or Rochester cathedrals we hold receptions where we can say our final au revoirs (we don’t like goodbyes) and raise a glass to the prize winners. However, teaching continues over the summer as we supervise our large cohort of Master’s students, who don’t submit their dissertations until shortly before the new students arrive in September. The Master’s students and those who take resit exams wait until November to graduate.

Does the marking ever end?

Speaking of resits, for those whose results weren’t quite as good as they hoped, there are exams in August, with all of the marking and administration that goes alongside that for our academic and professional services colleagues.

Research conferences

As much of the teaching has finished for the academic year, the summer is the period when many of our staff work intensively on research. For some this means building systems, constructing proofs, writing papers, grant applications or books, or travelling to conferences around the globe to present our ideas and results. Some colleagues host conferences or summer schools for their peers or industry leaders. This summer this includes:

Placements

If you know anything about the School of Computing, then hopefully you’ll know how proud we are of our placements. Over 100 students take part in a paid year in industry every year, often achieving awards and gaining offers of graduate employment. The placement team is visiting students across three continents this summer, making sure that everyone is on track with their assessments which are handed in in July. Then they all have to be marked (yes… more marking, there does seem to be a theme).

New students – 2019

Before the class of 2019 has graduated we are already planning timetables and welcome week for the next cohort of students ready to start in September. Some will go through Clearing, and we will have staff on hand to guide them through the process.

Computer Science is evolving quickly so we can’t teach the same material every year. Our staff will be busy ensuring their teaching is up to date with the latest research. We also listen to student feedback to improve how the material is delivered.

New students – 2020

Open Days have already started as prospective students for 2020 come to see Kent for themselves. If they can’t make the summer events, there are more Open Days in October, but the sun is less likely to shine! The subject brochures and the postgraduate prospectus are finalised and printed. The undergraduate prospectus for 2020 was printed back in the spring and writing the 2021 prospectus will happen next term – how the years fly by!

Postgraduates

While the undergraduates may have left campus in May or June, many of our postgraduates are still here. The PhD students work across the calendar year and the Master’s students are working on projects or for clients in our consultancy, the KITC.

Social media

We’re still here! If you want to get in touch with ‘@UniKentComp’ on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn or YouTube, we will respond. We love passing on good news about the achievements of our staff, students and graduates. There may be the occasional picture of a dog too! Our emails and telephones are also answered. Until AI gets much, much better, it will be a human member of staff on the other side of the screen or phoneline.

Machine gears grinding together

Find out about the UK’s Industrial Strategy Grand Challenges

University of Kent staff are invited to join Kent Innovation & Enterprise and local businesses for breakfast and an interactive session explaining the UK’s Industrial Strategy on the 12th July at 8am.

 This breakfast briefing will be a quick, informative and interactive way to learn about the Challenges and how to access opportunity funding. As part of the morning we will have a working session to illustrate how the Strategy highlights the strengths and weaknesses of the UK economy. 

The Industrial Challenges to be discussed are:

Artificial Intelligence and data – new industries in their own right, they are also transforming business models across many sectors as they deploy vast datasets to identify better ways of doing complex tasks.

Ageing society – ageing populations will create new demands for technologies, products and services. We have an obligation to help our older citizens lead independent, fulfilled lives, continuing to contribute to society.

Clean growth – whole new industries will be created and existing industries transformed as we move towards a low carbon, more resource-efficient economy.

Future of mobility – a profound change in how we move people, goods and services around our towns, cities and countryside. This is driven by extraordinary innovation in engineering, technology and business models.

If you are interested in attending, please book your free place on Eventbrite.

 

 

War-Illustrated

Workshop on digitizing historic WWI magazine

The Network of Research: Movies, Magazines and Audiences (NoRMMA), a research network situated within the School of Arts and founded by Dr Tamar Jeffers McDonald, Reader in Film, will be hosting its first workshop as part of the Digitizing The War Illustrated project funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund this week.

The War Illustrated was a weekly magazine published throughout the First World War, beginning n August 1914. It provided the British public with text and images about the conflict, and continued to shape the British public’s views until after Armistice Day in November 1918.

The research project aims to digitize and make available the entire run of the publication’s 233 issues.

The project will hold three workshops during June and July 2019. During these, we will give volunteers background on the magazine and its history, help them to familiarise themselves with the online archive, as well as plan and complete research projects of their own. The workshop participants will then be able to share their findings online and at a tea dance-themed launch later in the year.

The first workshop will be held this week on Thursday 27 June 2019, from 10am to 5pm, in Jarman Seminar Room 7. Spaces are limited to 12, so please email normma.network@gmail.com to book the first workshop and to keep up to date with further dates.

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SARD to take on Gung-Ho!

SARD (who have selected the Kent and Medway Medical School as their Charity of the Year) have registered for Gung-Ho! at Crystal Palace on Saturday 13th July and are looking for adventurous (and brave!) people to join their team.

Gung-Ho! is the world’s biggest inflatable 5km run (think Total Wipeout!) and is a challenging event that can be enjoyed by everybody regardless of age, ability or fitness level.

Team SARD has two places available in their 13 strong team – they have covered the cost of the places but ask that each participant pledges to raise a minimum sponsorship of £100. If all participants succeed they will have raised £1,300 for KMMS through this event alone.

If running isn’t your thing, you can still support SARD through their JustGiving page.

If you would like to join the team please contact Francesca Monk, Marketing Director, on francesca@sardjv.co.uk, for further information.

Kelli Rudolph and pupils

Classical Tales project inspires pupils

The Department of Classical and Archaeological Studies recently hosted their end of year prize competition for this year’s ‘Classic Tales’ project. Thirty pupils in Year Seven at Dover Grammar School for Boys were invited to attend an event at the University to celebrate their achievements.

The pupils were required to produce an artistic interpretation of Homer’s Odyssey, either individually or as part of a small group, with the thirty students who produced the most original projects invited along for an unforgettable day at the University’s Canterbury campus.

With interpretations ranging from pottery to poetry and re-imaginings of the tale set in locations as far-flung and far-fetched as space and cloning labs, Lecturer in Classics and Philosophy Dr Kelli Rudolph, and Dr Alexandra Martin-Carey, Humanities specialist from the University’s schools outreach team, were delighted by the range and quality of the submissions.

The project was delivered with the aim of giving pupils access to the history and traditions of story-telling, with the day at the University designed to allow pupils to experience what life with lecturers and being on a real campus would be like. The pupils who took part in the project said they enjoyed ‘the atmosphere around campus’, with another remarking that ‘before going on this trip, I didn’t really want to go to a university, but after my experience I now really want to go!’ The vast majority agreed, with just 42% of attendees saying they wanted to go to university before the trip, but that number soared to almost 75% after their glimpse of life on campus.

Kelli Rudolph said: “Classical Tales has had another amazingly successful year! The power and beauty of Homer’s Odyssey inspired thirty 11-12 year olds to new creative and intellectual heights. In addition to their creative responses to this 3000 year old tale, they easily sustained a near university-level analysis of key aspects of the text in a seminar style setting. This is a spectacular outcome for a programme designed to make the literature of antiquity accessible to all students regardless of their background or attainment level. The students’ outstanding work is evidence of the timeless nature of ancient literature, and its ability to spark imagination. After getting a taste of what Humanities has to offer on a university campus, it was no surprise that the number of students in the group wanting to go to University nearly doubled. This is what great literature has the power to do: inspire students to dream bigger, strive harder and let their imaginations run free.”

"introducing the brand new KMTV mobile app" with image of phone showing app

KMTV App available on Apple and Android

KMTV has launched the county’s only dedicated video news app.

The Freeview channel, owned by the University of Kent and the KM Media Group, broadcasts to thousands of residents across the county every day. Now, even more people are being kept up to date with stories and content that really matter to their communities through its innovative app.

The app, that’s available to download for free on both Apple and Android devices, broadcasts KMTV’s live output 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Users are also able to watch all of the channel’s shows on demand, including its flagship news programme ‘Kent Tonight’.

‘We’re so excited to be launching the app and serving even more people in Kent,’ says Andy Richards, KMTV’s News Editor. ‘Every single minute of the content that we create at KMTV is now available on the app. 90,000 people currently watch our content on Freeview and Virgin for three minutes or longer every week. 100,000s use our social media and website and we’ve achieved 1,000,000s of views of our videos since launching. We’re delighted to have built this audience in our short existence but by developing the app, we’re now able to serve an even wider audience.’

After a soft launch of the app to help test the software, hundreds of people have already downloaded it on both stores. ‘It’s been amazing, considering there’s only been limited promotion whilst we finessed the app’s functionality. I think it shows that there’s a huge appetite for the kind of content we’re creating and we’re really excited about its future’.

The app has been developed by Publishers’ Toolbox, an international digital agency that’s working with media organisations such as NewsUK and The Gay Times.

Working with Publishers’ Toolbox, KMTV’s helped develop key innovative features. Users are able to submit their own content to the channel that flows directly into KMTV’s news gathering system. ‘Through producing our content online, we’ve seen how well user generated content does in terms of traffic on social media groups,’ says Richards. ‘Why not take this a step further? We want smaller communities to use our various channels to tell stories that wouldn’t usually get a platform to thousands. The public are more educated than ever before on how to use powerful devices such as smartphones and it’s a really simple process to send the content. We’re hoping to work with lots of diverse groups to deliver hyper local stories to areas that doesn’t traditionally get a voice’.

As part of its relationship with the KM Group’s newspapers, KMTV will also be trialling the use of ‘Augmented Reality’ through its app. Users will be able to scan pictures in the KM newspaper titles that will bring the pages to life by delivering videos within the app. ‘This
could be the future,’ continues Richards. ‘Augmented reality has been around for a little while, but has had limited uptake or success. That’s because technology wasn’t ready for it but I think it is now. It’s a fantastic way of bringing a modern twist to traditional media and we think it’s a really interesting feature that’s worth exploring, as there are both editorial and commercial opportunities through its use.’

For more information contact Andy Richards on 01634 202024 or visit the KMTV website and social media pages: Facebook, Instagram & Twitter.

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Globalising Philosophy at Kent

If philosophy is the love of wisdom, why is there so little discussion of non-western thinkers and ideas in modern philosophical debates? What would a truly global and multicultural vision of philosophy look like?

The Department of Religious Studies and the Royal Institute of Philosophy recently organised an academic symposium, followed by a panel discussion which was open to the public, on the topic of ‘Globalising Philosophy’. Both events were arranged to celebrate the founding of the unique new undergraduate degree in Global Philosophies which welcomes its first students in September 2019. Speakers focused on the contribution and opportunities of including African, Indian and Chinese Philosophy in a multicultural and global conception of the love of wisdom (Greek: philosophia).

These events were organised by Head of Department, Professor Richard King – who was recently featured alongside Professor Jeremy Carrette, also from the Department of Religious Studies, in a Guardian article entitled ‘The mindfulness conspiracy‘ – and the Department of Philosophy, and set out to explore the issue of decolonising and internationalising the curriculum and ways to consider philosophy as a global rather than an exclusively western enterprise, reflecting the unique new BA Global Philosophies undergraduate programme.

Richard King commented: “There are very few places in the country where you can study philosophy in a multicultural and global context. The University of Kent is an international innovator in developing a programme that meets the changing nature of UK and global society. The conference and public event were both a great success.”

Patty Baker

Dr Patty Baker awarded funding for EDI conference

Dr Patty Baker, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Classical and Archaeological studies, has been awarded TESSA funding to host an online conference/workshop entitled ‘Overcoming Challenges in the Development of Diversity, Equality and Inclusivity Initiatives in Higher Education’ on 8 July 2019.

TESSAs (Teaching Enhancement Small Support Awards) are grants to support the enhancement of teaching, learning and the student experience, and Patty’s event brings together American and UK deans and chief diversity officers to discuss the problems and solutions they faced when setting up their EDI (Equality, Diversity and Inclusivity) programmes.

The project is specifically about sharing knowledge with various groups at the University of Kent, such as the Decolonising the Curriculum Committee and Student Success Project, working towards the development of a cohesive EDI plan. Patty commented: “This is a significant workshop that will help to build the University’s EDI training and plans.”

This workshop developed out of an INSIGHTS (Senior Women’s Leadership Training Group) project Patty developed when asked to suggest an area for University development. She recognised the need for staff training to encourage difficult classroom discussions, inclusive seminars, and microaggressions, for example. She researched how EDI training is undertaken elsewhere, and contacted EDI Deans/Chief Diversity Officers in universities and liberal arts colleges in the United States to discuss their programmes. July’s event is building on this network.

To reserve your place for this conference, visit the Eventbrite page.

Broadcast Digital Awards 2019

Congratulations to Drama alumna Zoë Carey-Williams

Congratulations to alumna Zoë Carey-Williams, who graduated with a BA (Hons) in Drama and French in 2017, who worked on the comedy TV movie Death on the Tyne (2018), which has been nominated for Best Comedy Programme at the Broadcast Digital Awards 2019.

Death of the Tyne was produced by UKTV, and saw Zoë starring alongside comedy legends Johnny Vegas and Sue Johnston. The film is a follow up to Murder on the Blackpool Express (2017), and follows a mystery on an Amsterdam cruise ship crossing the Tyne.

Explaining her background, Zoë said: ‘I studied Drama and French at Kent and the teaching on the acting modules I chose for second and third year were outstanding. We were really pushed and taught so many tools to apply to the craft.’

Following her study, she wanted to pursue acting professionally – which swifty led to her getting the role of Hen in Death on the Tyne: ‘I got the role from a self-tape audition. It was only a couple of lines but it was my first professional speaking role on-screen and I was ecstatic – and very nervous – because the cast featured many brilliant and hilarious actors who I’d grown up watching, and the director Ed Bye had directed my favourite comedy show as a kid, After You’ve Gone.’

Has Zoë any advice to current students? ‘Sometimes we take our time at university for granted – the access we have to brilliant minds ready to impart their wisdom. I still go back to the notes from my courses. I will always be grateful for my time at Kent!’

To see the full list of nominations, please see the page here.

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Creative writing, video games and ‘Slender man’: Podcast with Chris Deacy

In the latest episode of the Nostalgia podcast series, Dr Chris Deacy, Reader in Theology and Religious Studies in the Department of Religious Studies, speaks to Vivian Asimos.

Vivian recently achieved her PhD on theology and virtual storytelling at Durham with Douglas Davies (next week’s guest), with ‘Slender Man’ (a fictional monster created on an internet forum) as her main case study. The pair discuss blurring the line in horror between fiction and reality.

She and Chris go on to discuss video games; Florida; wanting to be a creative writer; ‘stumbling into’ Religious Studies; playing the piano; funk; listening to the charts on the way to church; ‘Lord of the Rings’; working in a food bank and on President Obama’s re-election campaign; the comfort of not belonging; what her childhood version of herself would expect she would be doing now; and using the past as a learning experience for future situations.