A091/Fraser Island/Ecosystem Wet Area on Sandy Island

New conservation leadership approach

Conducted by Dr Simon Black of the University’s School of Anthropology and Conservation in partnership with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust, the research calls for leaders of conservation campaigns to follow a ‘Systems Thinking Approach’. This involves merging different elements of leadership practice and thinking to achieve a better focus on the needs of species and ecosystems, the expectations of local communities and the work of conservation teams.

The paper is available in the Open Journal of Leadership here.

Topics from the paper were raised at a Zoological Society of London’s open Science and Conservation Event, ‘Who’s going to save the world? Building the next generation of conservation leaders’. The event featured a panel of experts, including Dr Black, who addressed current leadership development to enable biodiversity recovery in the face of challenges presented by the 21st century.

A new Conservation Project Management course which includes a module addressing conservation leadership will be available at Kent from October 2014.

rainbow cake

Religious belief and denying services

By Davina Cooper, Professor of Law and Political Theory, for The Conversation

The recent furore over a Northern Ireland bakery’s refusal to make a cake bearing the iced message “support gay marriage” is just the latest in a series of incidents in which conservative Christians have cited religious beliefs as a reason to refuse gay men and lesbians goods and services – from wedding photographs to adoption assistance to guesthouse accommodation.

Internationally, sharp court battles have been waged as conservative Christians demand an exemption from provisions prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Civil disobedience is an important, historically recognised mode for expressing dissent, but state law should not grant “equality objectors” in these circumstances a legal right to say no. A legal commitment to equality is meaningless if beliefs provide a legitimate basis for exemption. After all, it’s mainly beliefs that lead people to oppose gay equality.

Being required to bake cakes or print leaflets which expressly advocate a political position is, I think, different.

Writing on the cake

Some would argue it is discriminatory to refuse to write “support gay marriage” on a wedding cake. But this depends on how others are treated, whether it’s heterosexuals asking for the same cake message or for a different one.

In my view, it’s important not to treat the refusal to print or ice a message as necessarily discriminatory. While sometimes it certainly is, as when a refusal is directly tied to who or what people are, a refusal to participate in the production of a particular message may, in some circumstances, be valid.

In disputes over gay equality, conservative critics often say that protecting religious freedom is a legitimate priority. From a progressive perspective, the legitimacy of refusal may lie elsewhere. Many on the left would object to having to produce materials advocating reactionary causes; some might also have sympathy with conservative Christian refusal as a way of resisting the ever-expanding dominion of money’s purchasing power – not everything consumers want and demand should be available (people might after all make or ice their own cakes).

Workers also have a legitimate right not to be treated as machines, and this means they have some moral right to have their relationship with the service they provide or the objects they create recognised, since some part of themselves is tied to what they do.

Freedom of silence

When it comes to political statements on wedding cakes, the law should not always be on the side of the consumer. This isn’t because gay equality and Christian demands to discriminate are equivalents simply needing the “right balance”; they are not. Bakers shouldn’t be legally exempt from baking a cake for gay people, even a wedding cake, because they disapprove on religious or philosophical grounds. However, asking people to participate in the creation of messages they find abhorrent also raises issues other than discrimination.

Considerable attention routinely gets paid to questions of speech rights, of what can be said, by whom and where. Helping to produce other’s people’s advocacy, even when it’s only a message on a cake, also raises questions about entitlements to silence: when, for what reasons, and under what conditions can someone refuse to participate in certain kinds of speech?

In these conflicts, where commercial producers refuse to take up the position of “speech surrogates” helping to create someone else’s political speech, we might also ask difficult questions about what counts as participation – is a sole practitioner in the same position as a factory? – and what, exactly, counts as speech.

The ConversationDavina Cooper has received funding from UK research councils and other educational funding bodies and is a member of a political party.

This article was originally published on The Conversation.
Read the original article.


Footsteps project

As part of the University’s 50th Anniversary celebrations, students, staff, alumni and members of the wider University community can become part of the very fabric of Kent by having a short message or memory engraved on a brick, and set in a new celebratory pathway by the Templeman Library.

The Crab and Winkle Path will commemorate the Canterbury and Whitstable Railway route (known locally as the Crab and Winkle Line), which ran directly below the University grounds.

Set at the heart of the Canterbury campus, this new path will recognise those who have made the University what it is today.

All funds raised will help build the Kent Opportunity Fund, which supports students at Kent by funding scholarships, student projects and bursaries.

Minimum donations are £50 for a two line brick, and £90 for a four line brick.

Join us, and help the next generation of Kent students to walk in your footsteps.

To find out how you can become involved:

University of Kent

€1.2m research – website launched

The website showcases the work of a five-year project called ‘The Role and Future of National Constitutions in European and Global Governance‘, which is being conducted by Principal Investigator Professor Anneli Albi and Research Associate Dr Samo Bardutzky.

The project, which received a €1.2 million grant from the European Research Council’s Independent Starting Grant Scheme in 2014, will re-examine the role of national constitutions at a time when decision-making has increasingly shifted to a European and international level.

Through publications and by a series of workshops, the project will seek to foster discussion among constitutional law scholars, judges, parliaments and other institutions throughout the European Union and Switzerland on how to better uphold substantive constitutional rights and values in European and global governance.

For more information, please contact a.p.shieber@kent.ac.uk

Gavin Esler congratulating students

New Chancellor installed

His installation took place during one of three congregation ceremonies at Rochester Cathedral.

As Chancellor, Gavin Esler’s duties will include conferring degrees, chairing the University’s Court and representing the University on special occasions.

Born in Glasgow and brought up in Edinburgh and Northern Ireland, Gavin Esler – who graduated from the University with a BA in English and American Literature in 1974 – has worked for the BBC since 1977. He was its White House-based Chief North American correspondent between 1989 and 1998 and has more recently been one of the three main presenters on BBC2′s Newsnight and the main presenter on Dateline London (BBC World and BBC News Channel).

The University awarded him an honorary MA in 1995 and an honorary Doctor of Civil Law in 2005.

For more information, please contact Martin Herrema.

Professor Michael Kölling

Teaching Excellence in Computer Science

This certification is recognition of the School’s role in improving computer science teaching in schools in the UK. The network of excellence is arranged by Computing at School (CAS) and BCS, the chartered institute for IT, with support from the Department for Education, Microsoft and Google.

Michael Kölling, Professor of Computing Education, said: ‘Becoming a university partner shows us as being one of the lead universities building up CS teaching in the UK.’

For more information, please contact: O.P.Garratt@kent.ac.uk

Tour De France

Science and cycling

Kent sport scientist Professor Louis Passfield demonstrated the science behind elite Tour de France cyclists for an ITV Meridian feature, which was first broadcast on 1 July.

The feature was in advance of the University-organised 2014 World Congress of Cycling Science (WCCS) in Leeds 2-3 July.

Endorsed by the Union Cycliste International (UCI) and featuring several very special guests from the sport, WCCS focused on the science behind elite cycling performance, with a particular focus on the Tour, which started in Leeds on 5 July.

It also ran a school and public engagement events.

WCCS was sponsored by the University of Kent, Biotechnology and Biosciences Research Council (BBSRC), British Cycling, PowerBar, Mapei Sport, UCI, Human Kinetics, Training Peaks, Cranlea Human Performance, SRM, HaB Direct, Cyclus 2 and Power Breathe.

Harry Hill

Honorary degrees for July

Musician Robert Wyatt will also be awarded an honorary degree during a week of congregations ceremonies at Canterbury cathedral (14-18 July).

Honorary degrees were previously awarded to artist Billy Childish, Kids Company founder Camila Batmanghelidjh and media executive Geraldine Allinson during congregations ceremonies at Rochester Cathedral on 8 July.

Others to receive honorary degrees at Canterbury congregations are: Framestore co-founder Sir William Sargent; disability rights campaigner Liz Sayce; penal reform campaigner Baroness Stern; businessman George Kennedy; corporate and social responsibility advocate Lord Hastings; painter Daphne Todd OBE; and diplomat Shan Morgan.

For more information, please contact the Press Office.

Winners at the Lawyer Awards

Law Clinic triumphs

The Clinic secured first place in a category featuring a host of well-known international law firms.

Announced at the 20th anniversary edition of the Lawyer Awards on 25 June, the award recognises the work carried out by the Clinic’s staff and students in its immigration and asylum team. This included supporting individuals with asylum claims, working with refugee support groups such as Kent Refugee Help and Kent Refugee Action Network, and conducting research into the treatment of unaccompanied minors who apply for asylum.

Clinic solicitor Sheona York and research assistant Richard Warren‎ were presented the award by celebrity compere Joanna Lumley. A number of Kent students from the team also joined them on stage at London’s Grosvenor House Hotel in front of over 1,400 lawyers.

For more information about Kent Law Clinic, which is a partnership between the University’s law students and academics, as well as solicitors and barristers in practice locally, visit: www.kent.ac.uk/law/clinic

The Clinic received international attention earlier this year for a case that secured UK asylum on religious grounds for an Afghan citizen who was an atheist. The case was believed to be the first of its kind.

WW1 Austrian street scene

Gateways to the First World War

One of five new national centres on the First World War was launched at the University on 30 May.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) in conjunction with the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), Gateways to the First World War was developed to connect academic and public histories of the war in its centenary year.

The centre includes a dedicated web portal featuring archive material, including many photographs published for the first time.

The centres also form part of the First World War Centenary Partnership, led by the Imperial War Museums, and will complement other AHRC activities, including the BBC’s World War One at Home project.

The launch event was attended by the Austrian ambassador to the UK and featured lectures by historian Professor Mark Connelly, a leading expert on WW1 and head of the University’s Gateway centre, and Dr Heide Kunzelmann, of the School of European Culture and Languages.

For the launch, Dr Kunzelmann made available photographs taken by her great-grandfather – a medical officer during the war – of prisoners and troop mobilisations.

Professor Connelly is one of three historiansfrom Kent selected to participate in the World War One at Home project. The others are Professor Ian Becket and Dr Timothy Bowman.