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Testing out a theory

Image of Nora Laraki

PhD student Nora Laraki curates exhibition on the Berlin Wall

Doctoral student Nora Laraki, who is completing a PhD in the History and Philosophy of Art, has curated and produced an exhibition at the 12 Star Gallery in Europe House, London, entitled ‘”If Only You Could Be Here…”: Love Letters Across the Berlin Wall’.

The Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany for nearly 30 years until its fall in 1989. East and West Germany only had limited opportunities to visit each other, and even less for East and West Berliners. Families, friends and lovers were divided and many people tried to escape from East to West.

The exhibition features works by the Berlin art collective Tape That, and focuses on three special love stories between East and West Germans that took place in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. Three couples fell in love during the German division. Their stories, of love that defied a time of isolation and separation, were kept alive through letters. Here, in this exhibition you will have the opportunity to see Germany’s Cold War history from a new and unexpected perspective. This is a story about devotion without borders, without walls, told in the words of the lovers themselves.

The exhibition is supported by the German Historical Institute of London and the Goethe-Institut in London, and was produced in partnership with the European Commission.

Nora’s research project is entitled ‘What is the Impact of Corporate Art Collectors on the West-European Contemporary Art Market (and its Art Production)?’, and is supervised by Dr Ben Thomas, Reader in the History of Art.

The 12 Star Gallery is open from 10am-6pm, Monday to Friday and is located at 32 Smith Square, London SW1P 3EU. The exhibition runs until 31 October and will then move to the German Historical Institute London, where it can be visited between the 5th November and 5th December at 17 Bloomsbury Square, London WC1A 2NJ. The German Historical Institute is open Monday to Friday from 9.30am – 5pm and Thursdays from 9.30am – 8pm.

More details are available here: https://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/events/12-star-gallery_en

Image of Joy Martindale

School of Arts hosts ‘Lilacs in Bloom’ artwork

The School of Arts is currently hosting an artwork installation as part of the Platforma 5 festival, currently running across the Kent and Medway region.

The biennial Platforma festival for the arts by, with, and about refugees and migration is produced by Counterpoints Arts. It brings together artists, organisations, funders and others for discussions, workshops and the chance to share practice and showcase new work.

The piece, entitled ‘Lilacs in Bloom’ by artist Joy C Martindale, is a participatory artwork made in collaboration with survivors of modern-day slavery and human trafficking. The participants of the project were a gentleman from Lithuania and a mother from West Africa and her three young children. Working with paint and scraps of colourful cloth collected by Joy along the tidelines of the coast in Southeast Kent, the artist and the participants explored creativity as a means of being free in the moment to choose how to express thoughts, feelings, and ideas.

You can read more about the process of putting together the artwork here.

The artwork is currently on display in the Jarman foyer, until 25 October 2019.

Fitness Instructors attend massive Fitness Fiesta

Kent Sport prides itself on the knowledge of its staff in and out of the Fitness Suite. In order to keep up on trends, open itself to new ideas and provide first-rate classes, Kent Sport Fitness Instructors attend various fitness events throughout the year.

For the 10th year running, Jeni Dexter-Mullane, Emma Cooke and Liz Coult attended the Fitness Fiesta in Camber Sands at the beginning of October. It’s a gruelling schedule with up to six hours a day of back-to-back classes. Classes included everything from Yoga to Spinning to Dancing to even Nordic Walking (perhaps not one that you’ll see one of our timetables soon). Each instructor did more than 36,000 steps a day!

The team attend these events to upskill themselves, learning tricks of the trade and insider secrets to make their classes the best they can offer.

Why not have a go at one of the many fitness and dance classes available at Kent Sport and experience how fun they are for yourself?! Visit www.kent.ac.uk/sports/events for class information or pick up a copy of Active Kent in the Sport Centre or Pavilion receptions.

The crew expect to check out the next event in the upcoming months of November 2019 and March 2020. To learn more about the event, visit fitnessfiesta.com.

Not a member yet? We have new membership options to suit your fitness journey. For Kent Sport news, events and special offers, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter @UniKentSports.

To stay up to date with Kent Sport news, Like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter UniKentSports. If you have any questions you can email sportsenquiries@kent.ac.uk.

Kent-Ghent 2020: Joint call for projects

The University of Kent, with one of our longstanding international partners, Ghent University, Belgium, is pleased to announce the call for joint Kent-Ghent collaborative projects taking place in 2020.

The funding will support mobility between colleagues at the two institutions (for example short-term staff/student exchange, seminars, workshops, preparatory meetings to establish longer-term collaboration such as double degrees, joint research projects and other activities such as those funded through the Erasmus+ Key Actions).

Since 2009, the Universities of Kent and Ghent have enjoyed a strategic international partnership covering activities in student exchange, Erasmus Mundus, co-supervision of research, joint research and the exchange of knowledge and best practice between staff in professional services.

Marking the tenth year of this partnership, we are increasing the funding available and seeking to support both small scale and/or exploratory initiatives as well as collaborations at a more advanced stage.

To date, over forty projects have been funded in a wide range of Kent Schools and Centres.  These include Anthropology and Conservation, Arts, Economics, Engineering and Digital Arts, English, European Culture and Languages, History, Kent Business School, Kent Law School, Medway School of Pharmacy, Physical Sciences, Politics and International Relations, Psychology, Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research, Sport and Exercise Sciences, Centre for Journalism, Centre for the Interdisciplinary Study of Film and the Moving Image.

Funding available: up to £3,000 per project (subject to meeting certain criteria)

How to apply: Applications are now open via the International Partnerships website.

Application deadline: 31 January 2020

Further information can be found on the website.

Alternatively you can contact Jan Lowe, International Partnerships Email:

j.lowe@kent.ac.uk  Tel: 01227 824108

Free Family Day at Gulbenkian | Sat 26 Oct

Join us for a FREE Family Day to celebrate the Platforma Festival exploring themes of home, identity and migration.

A series of pop-up performances, workshops, activities, film screenings and arts & crafts throughout the day which celebrate diversity and different cultures, with a particular focus on arts by, about and with refugee and migrant communities. Have fun and celebrate as a family, whilst also exploring themes of home, identity and migration.

Aimed at ages 4-11, but all the family are welcome. Rough times below and we will publish a full timetable nearer the time.

All the following events are free, but some are limited capacity and will run on a first come first served on the day:

Morning – Drumming & Gumboot Workshops

12.30 – 1.45pm Maya Youssef: The Seven Gates of Damascus  (limited capacity – first come first served)

Afternoon – Magic Wand Workshop

All day – Interactive Web Documentary: Ongoing Journeys

All day – Hello! Badge Swap Shop

2.30pm Short Films


11am – Family Film: Paddington (U) – the ultimate migrant and his adventures in London (Tix £3)

Shane Weller on ‘Europe: The History of an Idea’

Professor Shane Weller, Head of School and Professor of Comparative Literature, has given a talk titled ‘Europe: The History of an Idea’ at St John’s College Old Divinity School in Cambridge as part of this year’s Cambridge Festival of Ideas.

The 2016 referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union triggered a passionate debate about the advantages and disadvantages of EU membership. However, in that debate, the distinction between the European Union and Europe more generally was blurred. What exactly do we mean when we refer to ‘Europe’?

In his talk, Shane sought to answer that question by considering the long history of the idea of Europe, which extends back to ancient Greece. He says: ‘I believe that, as we attempt to imagine possible futures for Europe, we have much to learn from the past.’


Paul March-Russell to act as guest editor for ‘Humanities’

Paul March-Russell, Lecturer in the Department of Comparative Literature, has agreed to be the guest editor for a special issue of Humanities on “Modernism and Science Fiction”.

The issue assembles a special issue that explores the relationship between modernism and science fiction. Topics may include (but are not limited to): science fiction elements in the work of modernist writers and artists, technoculture and the avant-garde, science fiction, modernism and cinema, and more!

Manuscripts are welcomed and should be submitted online. For further questions, contact Paul March-Russell at P.A.March-Russell@kent.ac.uk.

Calculator, calendar and pen image

USS pensions update

Universities and trade union representatives have been in negotiations over the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) pension scheme since March 2017.  This is a difficult and complex situation and the University and College Union (UCU) are now balloting its members for industrial action

The Executive Group (EG) regret this situation and the impact it has on staff, particularly at such a challenging time.

Because the USS scheme is a national one, the situation cannot be resolved at a local level. As a result, the University is doing all it can to support efforts to reach a national agreement and the Vice-Chancellor and other members of EG members recently met with Universities UK (UUK), the national body which is representing employers like Kent in this dispute.

EG is clear that members of USS need to have in place a long-term and sustainable agreement on both benefits and contributions. At the meeting, they presented the case for a review of the regulatory environment, arguing that the current framework makes it harder for the sector to reach such an agreement. The Vice-Chancellor and colleagues stressed that the current framework does not recognise the unique nature of the university sector, which they said needs a more bespoke approach to pension valuations, and urged UUK to open direct line of communication with the pensions regulator, involving the University and College Union (UCU).

They also asked that all efforts to be made to expedite the delivery a second phase report from the Joint Expert Panel (JEP), the recommendations from which could also move the negotiations towards a resolution that is acceptable to all.

Further background and information about the issues facing members of the USS pension scheme is available on the dedicated USS pensions website.

Staff who are members of the SAUL pension scheme should be reassured that at the last valuation the scheme was confirmed as fully funded and is therefore not impacted by the issues currently facing USS.

Affiliation with GLO

The School of Economics at Kent is pleased to announce a new affiliation with the Global Labor Organization (GLO), which will connect the University of Kent with over 1,500 academics and researchers worldwide.

Dr Matloob Piracha, Senior Lecturer at the School of Economics and Director of GLO, is confident that this new partnership will contribute positively to the excellent research environment of the School.

The Global Labor Organization (GLO) is a global, independent, non-partisan and non-governmental organization that has no institutional position. The GLO functions as an international network and virtual platform for researchers, policy makers, practitioners and the general public interested in scientific research and its policy and societal implications on global labor markets, demographic challenges and human resources. These topics are defined broadly in line with its Mission to embrace the global diversity of labor markets, institutions, and policy challenges, covering advanced economies as well as transition and less developed countries.


The GLO Network currently consists of over 1,500 Fellows and Affiliates from across the world.


GLO also runs a Virtual Young Scholars Programme (VirtYS).

KPERN Communities of Practice Programme: Working in Partnership


The second session in the KPERN Communities of Practice Programme will be held on Wednesday 6th November 1-2pm.

Kasia Senyszyn, a School of Arts PhD student specialising in accessibility in theatre and a member of the KPERN (Kent Public Engagement with Research Network), has been working with Sun Pier House (SPH) in Medway, on the ‘Open Arts My Self’ project. The ‘Open Arts Project’ is specifically aimed at blind and visually impaired, deaf and hard of hearing people, young people and their families. The project aims to investigate the value of socially engaged practice, looking at improving well-being and engagement with those people at risk of social isolation.

Project artists from SPH will join Kasia to talk about how the collaboration came about and what it has involved, how it worked in practice, experiences of working across very different organisations, and lessons learned from the whole process. Anyone who is interested in working with Sun Pier House should come along.

Please email Research Impact & Public Engagement Manager Maddy at peresearch@kent.ac.uk to book a space.


There are 3 further sessions in the Programme:

Session 3: External expert Jamie Gallagher: Evaluating Engagement

Half day workshop Wednesday 29th January 2020 (time to be confirmed)

Jamie Gallagher is an award winning and nationally recognised engagement professional and trainer, specialising in evaluation of the impact of engagement activity.  After an overview of the engagement with research landscape, Jamie will move on to evaluation: the what, why and how. Participants will be supported to work on their own engagement and evaluation plans during the workshop.


Session 4: Laura Thomas-Walters: Innovative methods of engaging the public with research

Monday 10th February 2020 1-2pm

Laura Thomas-Walters, a PhD student in Conservation Biology, commissioned her PhD quilt as a visual and tactile representation of the breadth of research undertaken at Kent. Laura worked with the Canterbury Quilters Society to produce the quilt, subsequently winning the Graduate School’s Postgraduate Community Experience Award. Laura will talk through the development of this innovative method of engagement, and where it will take her next.


Session 5: Dr Helen Brooks and Professor Mark Connelly: Gateways to the First World War – a plethora of engagement activity

Wednesday 4th March 2020 1-2pm

Between 2014 and 2019, Gateways to the First World War was funded by the AHRC to support public engagement with the centenary of the First World War. In this session Dr Helen Brooks, a Reader in Theatre and Cultural History, and Mark Connelly, Professor of Modern History, will reflect on their experiences of a diverse range of public engagement activities: from talks and workshops to performances and lecture-concerts. They will discuss the ways in which they worked with community groups both as advisors and in developing participatory researcher projects, and reflect on the challenges and possibilities of this kind of work.