Archive of Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences stories

Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

New first year offering for Brookes’ Philosophy course

Philo news

The Philosophy Course at Oxford Brookes has introduced two new modules into the first year syllabus. The modules: Global Philosophy in Religions and Human Nature will pose questions such as ‘How can philosophy help us to lead a flourishing life?’ and will complement the already diverse yet cohesive module list available to students.

Philosophy at Brookes investigates the history of philosophy in great detail. It examines prominent issues in areas such as science and religion, and takes the view that the work of great philosophers of the past is relevant to contemporary concerns. The course also explores how the work of historical philosophers impacts upon debates that are central to modern philosophy.

Traditionally, the course has been grounded in the Western approach to teaching philosophy; however the new modules will add a more distinctive element to the course through examining philosophy from a non-western approach.

‘For the new academic year we have added two exciting new first year modules to the Philosophy programme. They will add both breadth and depth to the programme and will enable students to explore issues that have interested philosophers for centuries and are of great contemporary relevance’.

Dr Mark Cain, Programme Lead for Philosophy.

More information on the BA Philosophy course can be found here.

Academics awarded prize for paper on history of Docklands regeneration

Docklands-planning-imageTwo Oxford Brookes academics have been awarded a prize for a research paper which explores the history of the regeneration of the East London docklands and the setting up of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

Dr Sue Brownill from the School of the Built Environment and Professor Glen O’Hara from the Department of History, Philosophy and Religion at Oxford Brookes University, have been awarded the 2016 Biennial Planning Perspectives Paper Prize for their paper From Planning to Opportunism; Re-examining the Creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation.

The Biennial Planning Perspectives Prize is funded by Taylor & Francis and awarded to the best planning history article published in the previous two volumes of the journal.

In awarding the prize the judges commented: “This paper represents both methodologically and conceptually a very important work, challenging ideological and political clichés and investigating with historical tools (archival research) very recent developments, something quite uncommon.[it offers] a new and deep insight into a key moment in the history of planning that goes beyond simple discourses and analyses the complex articulation between actors, pushing on the frontline the issue of contingence in planning history.

“The authors have used careful historical skills and newly accessible archive resources to re-interrogate narratives of important and iconic events that constituted an urban change of truly world significance but which have grown bardic with years of telling by different ideological camps.

“Brownill brings an unrivalled knowledge of the community, political, professional and developer networks that came together in London Docklands built up over many decades of research including innumerable interviews with key actors going back to the earliest days of the initiative. O’Hara brings an extensive understanding of the economic and social policies of the post-war British state and a deep understanding of Britain’s changing long term relationship to the sea.

“This is an article that will, whatever we decide, be very widely read and cited, showcasing the journal for those many who are outside the planning history community.”

The article came out of joint research funded by the University’s Central Research Fund.

The prize was awarded at the 17th Biennial International Planning History Society conference held in Delft on 26 July 2016. The paper can be downloaded and read on Taylor & Francis Online.

Oxford Brookes Academic Co-Curates Japanese Colour Cinema Retrospective

Japanese film festival Italy

Dr Alexander Jacoby, senior lecturer for the undergraduate Japanese Studies programme,  has co-curated the concluding instalment of a two-year programme of Japanese colour cinema at the Cinema Ritrovato Film Festival in Bologna, Italy. The programme, organised in collaboration with the National Film Center, Tokyo, offered a broad variety of early Japanese colour films, from pre-war experimentation to the colour masterpieces of the late 1950’s.

The widespread use of colour in commercial film began in the post-war years; however experiments with colour process had been undertaken in the 1930’s. The earliest film chosen by Dr Jacoby and his co-curator, Johan Nordström, was a new restoration of ‘Senninbari’ (1937) which used a pioneering two-strip colour process.

The rest of the programme explored various manifestations of colour cinema in the 1950s, spanning seven years from the first commercial full-length feature film in colour, Keisuke Kinoshita’s ‘Karumen kokyo ni kaeru’ (Carmen Comes Home, 1951), to the same director’s flamboyant historical fable, ‘Narayama bushiko’ (The Ballad of Narayama, 1958), with its colour schemes inspired by traditional theatre and arts.

The films screened illustrated various colour processes including the imported Eastmancolor and the indigenous Fujicolor and Konicolor formats. At the festival there was a particular focus on Konicolor which featured in three of the films included in the programme and was able vividly to reproduce a broad range of colours and shades. The programme also highlighted the varied artistic uses made of colour film in Japan. The chosen films exemplified different facets of the artistic potential of the emerging medium as it was embraced by the Japanese film industry.

Organised in collaboration with the National Film Center, Tokyo, Dr Jacoby acknowledges the participation of the assistant curator Masaki Daibo and the National Film Centre, Tokyo. Dr Jacoby would also like to acknowledge his friend and co-curator Johan Nordström.

Anthropology PhD students bring a Skeletal stall to the Science Bazaar

skele news

Two Brookes’ PhD students ran a skeletal stall at the recent Brookes Science Bazaar on Saturday 5th July. Nikki Lamb and Sophie Edwards’ stall aimed to give children and parents an experience of handling skeletons.

Available for visitors to discover were comparative sets of male and female skulls and pelvis bones,  humerus (forearm) and femur (leg) bones, and a half skeleton which showed the right side of the body, labelled so that visitors could relate it to their own bodies.

The star of the stall was ‘Ernest’, an articulated plastic skeleton who helped to show how the bones in the human body interact.

Nikki and Sophie enjoyed the interaction with visitors, finding that the children were enthusiastic about handling the bones, in particular in  seeing how light they were. Nikki reflected that ‘the children aren’t put off by anything and their appetite for knowledge is amazing’.

Nikki went on to say the best part ‘was seeing the wide eyed response of children and watching them tell their parents what they had just learnt’. Everyone who visited the stall was inquisitive about how bones function in the body, with the most popular question from parents  being ‘how do hip replacements work’!

Find out more about the Science Bazaar  and what’s been going on in the Department of Social Sciences.

Dr Simon Underdown receives Chartered Science Teacher Status

Simon News

Dr Simon Underdown has been awarded Chartered Science Teacher status (CSciTeach) by the Royal Society of Biology.  

The award of this status recognises the unique combination of skills, knowledge, understanding, and expertise that is required by individuals involved in the specific practice and advancement of science teaching and learning. Chartered Status is designed to engender public confidence in teaching professionals in the field of science and reflects a devotion to the continual development excellent science teaching.

Find out more about Anthropology and the Department of Social Sciences at Oxford Brookes University, Dr Simon Underdown’s work, and The Royal Society of Biology.

International Relations, Politics and Sociology annual postgraduate day proves to be a great success

003The International Relations, Politics and Sociology Programme held its Annual Postgraduate Day on 22 June 2016. This mini-conference was a showcase for work being done both by research students and the current MA International Studies cohort. Prospective MA students and online viewers were able to take part via livestream.

Dr Stephen Hurt, course lead for MA International Relations (formerly International Studies), reports that he was delighted to welcome Dr Juanita Elias (pictured, being introduced by Dr Molly Cohran) from the University of Warwick, where she is an Associate Professor in International Political Economy, for a lecture on ‘Gender, IPE and Labour Migration: Perspectives from South-East Asia’. Her lecture covered some of the key findings of her recent academic publications. Starting from the key feminist claim that a focus on social reproduction is vital, Juanita convincingly demonstrated how the role played by domestic workers is central to an understanding of the political economy of South-East Asia. In doing so she argued that social reproduction is becoming increasingly marketised, with states like Malaysia and Singapore encouraging inflows of migration to this effect.

“We are very grateful to Dr Elias for joining us and for prompting a very lively and interesting Q&A session after her lecture”

After the session broke for lunch, guests heard from three current doctoral research students from the department. Kian Pourkemani outlined some of the themes of his project, which is looking at the right of self-determination within international law. Huw Houssemayne Du Boulay set out the design of his research, which seeks to explore the ‘idea’ of Crimea and how this has varied over time in relation to notions of Russian national identity. Emily Cousens then spoke to some of the work she is doing on an interdisciplinary project with Philosophy on the concept of vulnerability within the history of feminist thought.

The International Relations, Politics and Sociology annual postgraduate day concluded with two sets of parallel panels where current MA students gave short presentations on their summer dissertation projects.

These presentations demonstrated the fascinating range of topics that our MA students are conducting research on. The following projects are just a sample to demonstrate the breadth of their interests:

  • ‘To what extent will the continued automation of labour impact social stratification in the global political economy?’.
  • ‘The relationship between scientific knowledge and political ecology in correcting environmental justice’.
  • ‘How a civil society organisation – Pelitit – is promoting food sovereignty and agro-ecological farming practices in Greece’.
  • ‘Producing in/security and its objects: discourse analysis of the reproduction of French citizen after the Charlie Hebdo attacks’.

Find out more about MA International Relations, or research at Oxford Brookes. Keep an eye on the Department of Social Sciences events page to take part in the next postgraduate day in June 2017.

PhD student receives funding award from Royal Historical Society

Daniel ReedDaniel Reed, a PhD student from Oxford Brookes University and a previous winner of a Royal Archives award, has now gained funding from the Royal Historical Society.

“I’m delighted to receive this generous award from the Royal Historical Society. The funding will allow me to make a crucial research trip to Yorkshire, where I plan to visit the archives at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research and York Minster library.”

Daniel Reed, PhD student

Daniel’s thesis ‘The Clerical Profession in the North of England, 1714-1760’, researches the administration and patronage within the Church of England during the mid-eighteenth century.

Daniel remarked “I’m delighted to receive this generous award from the Royal Historical Society. The funding will allow me to make a crucial research trip to Yorkshire, where I plan to visit the archives at the Borthwick Institute of Historical Research and York Minster library. This is to support my thesis and wider research into ecclesiastical affairs and early newspapers in the North of England.”

Daniel is a part-time PhD student in the department of History, Philosophy and Religion under the supervision of Professors William Gibson and Joanne Begiato

Professor Begiato said “I’m very proud of Daniel’s continued success in attaining awards, which secures funding for his doctoral research. These achievements are testament to his excellent scholarship and hard work.”

Founded in 1868 The Royal Historical Society has become one of the foremost societies in the UK. It works with professional historians advancing the study of the past.

Oxford Brookes student joins regional newspaper on a journalism internship

Emma Corr JournalismEmma Corr, a History and History of Art joint honours graduate from Oxford Brookes University has recently completed a journalism internship with regional newspaper the Leicester Mercury.

The week-long placement held at their Leicestershire headquarters allowed Emma to experience the pace of a working press office.IMG_6736

Keen to make the most of the internship, Emma presented her own ideas for articles to the press editor and wrote four published articles over the course of her placement as well as shadowing a journalist in court.

Emma said “I have always had an interest in journalism and current affairs and wanted to gain some experience with a well established newspaper.”

“My final project at the end of the week involved going to court and shadowing a court correspondent. This was particularly exciting as I had never seen a live court case before, and getting to hear verdicts and observe how journalists followed up real cases was really interesting.”IMG_6732

Emma’s articles included a piece on the infamous Red Bull Challenge, a world-wide trial, involving teams of students challenging themselves to travel across Europe using only cans of red bull as currency. She also wrote an inspiring piece about a mother running the London Marathon for a local charity on behalf of her daughter.

More information about studying History or History of Art can be found here.

Law graduate joins pro bono collective Oxfam Lawyers Against Poverty

LAP iulia mirzac

Iulia Mirzac, an Oxford Brookes University graduate, has started an internship with Lawyers Against Poverty (LAP). This pro bono initiative launched by Oxfam in June 2015 enables individuals from the legal community to work on legal projects that help fight the injustice of poverty. LAP targets global issues such as legal education, women’s rights to property, legal empowerment, climate litigation and Iulia will be working as a legal research intern for the team with a specific focus legal research on issues related to justice and poverty.

“I often feel honoured and privileged to be part of a team that works so hard to bring justice to those who need it most.”

Iulia Mirzac, School of Law graduate

Iulia, who studied Law with International Relations said “I decided to take the internship because the work Oxfam does globally, and specifically through Lawyers Against Poverty, is very similar to what I have always wanted to do – using my law degree for the good of those who need it the most.”

Since graduating this summer Iulia has been working on a range of projects within Oxfam’s legal team, including coordinating events and a fact-finding trip on migration, as well as drafting documents and using her linguistic skills to translate legal documents from English to French.

“One of the projects I am currently involved with is coordinating efforts across law firms and universities, to provide work experience opportunities for individuals from the refugee communities in the UK. I have also been involved in facilitating Summer Law Schools for young people from the refugee communities, in an effort to help them better integrate into our society and education system.”

“Lawyers Against Poverty Week, which took place from 13 to 20 June 2016, was the highlight of my first month at Oxfam, and I was particularly pleased and grateful that the School of Law at my own University hosted one of the events on June 17.”

Junior Lawyers Against Poverty will be launched at Oxford Brookes University in September 2016, providing research opportunities, a seminar series, a JLAP conference in January 2017, and potentially twinning  law students with law students from African countries.

To find out more about Lawyers Against Poverty please visit their website.

Oxford Brookes Philosopher Launches a Short Story Competition

philosophy news

Dr Helen De Cruz, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Oxford Brookes is organising a short story competition for the American Philosophical Association, to inspire writers of philosophical fiction. The aim of this competition is to encourage philosophers to use fiction to explore philosophical ideas.

“As the competition is open to everyone, including students, it is an excellent opportunity to try your hand at a slightly different way of doing philosophy”.Senior Lecturer Helen De Cruz

Dr Helen De Cruz also added “I am very pleased to be able to organise this short story competition for philosophers, thanks to the support of a grant from the Berry Fund for Public Philosophy of the American Philosophical Association. In addition to a cash prize of $500 and publication in Sci Phi Journal of the winning story, we also plan to publish an edited volume of the stories submitted that make an excellent contribution to philosophy.”

It is with a renewed interest in philosophical fiction that this competition has been launched. Philosophical fiction allows writers to explore ideas that cannot be easily dealt with in the format of a journal article or monograph. Some philosophical ideas are better expressed in a story than in a traditional essay, as works by Iris Murdoch and Jean Paul Sartre suggest.

Writers are encouraged to submit stories that cover any genre of fiction, although they must include one or more philosophical ideas. Submissions should be at least 1,000 words and no longer than 7,500 words

Further details and entry criteria can be found here.

The deadline for entries is 21 February 2017.

More information on the Philosophy course at Oxford Brookes can be found here.