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We Are The University
42 minutes | Dec 4, 2020
Welcome to Mind Over Chatter, the Cambridge University Podcast!
Welcome to Mind Over Chatter, the Cambridge University Podcast!One series at a time, we break down complex issues into simple questions. Subscribe here: https://mind-over-chatter.captivate.fm/listenIn this first series, we’ll explore climate change. Climate change is likely to affect almost every area of our lives… like a toddler with sticky fingers. But how did it become this way? What are we doing about it now? And what does the future hold?We’ll ask smart people some simple questions and see what happens!
33 minutes | Oct 28, 2020
How organisational culture works, without an office - Jennifer Howard-Grenville
We speak to Jennifer Howard-Grenville, Diageo Professor in Organisation Studies, at the Cambridge Judge Business School. This is a fascinating conversation, we look at organisational culture through an 800 year old lens, by examining how Cambridge University sustains and conveys a culture. Jennifer debunks the myths about organisation culture and explains how organisational culture is more than a mere “statement of values” but instead reflects the practices and expectations of people working together.We also discuss what the future of work might look like post Covid-19 and how organisations and leaders can maintain a culture after the shift to remote working We look at organisational culture through an 800 year old lens, when we discuss how Cambridge University conveys and sustains a culture. Jennifer debunks the myths about organisation culture and explains how it can be broken down into practices and beliefs, rather than physical environments and rituals.More infohttps://www.jbs.cam.ac.uk/faculty-research/faculty-a-z/jennifer-howard-grenville/ https://sloanreview.mit.edu/video/sustaining-culture-when-everyones-remote/
28 minutes | Oct 14, 2020
How to create racial equality at the workplace - Kamal Munir
In this episode Dr Kamal Munir, reader in strategy and policy at the Cambridge Judge Business School, joins us to talk about how racial inequality is reproduced in organisations and why it continues to escape scrutiny. We think about how the Black Lives Matter protests have prompted organisations to do some soul-searching, and we explore some practical solutions to achieving racial equality at the workplace.About Kamal:Dr Kamal Munir is Reader in Strategy & Policy at the Cambridge Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, where he also serves as the Academic Director of the Centre for Strategic Philanthropy. His research interests lie in social change and stasis. Dr Munir is a Fellow of Homerton College and also serves as the Race Equality Champion for the University of Cambridge.Transcript:Nick Saffell 0:00 Hello and welcome to the other university. I'm your host, Nick Saffell. In this episode dr Kemal minear reader and strategy and policy at the Cambridge judge Business School, joins us to talk about how racial inequality is reproduced in organizations, why it continues to escape scrutiny. We think about how the Black Lives Matter protests, prompting organizations to do some soul searching and explore some practical solutions to achieving racial equality in the workplace. I'm going to jump in right into this one, what is institutional racism and sort of how is it different from straight up racism?Kamal Munir 0:37 I think institutional racism the clue is in the name that it is institutionalized when something becomes institutionalized, it comes to be taken for granted it is not questioned anymore. So whereas if you see someone walking on the street being called names based on their race, that would be pretty evident to you as racism, institutionalized racism, which mostly happens inside organizations and, and and of course, at a larger level in societies, you may not be able to tell. So white privilege is part of institutional racism, when people actually understand it to be just part of, you know, normal life and part of a meritocratic organization. And this is this is how it is. So, it is it is much less visible, it is much more subtle, and it is embedded in organizational processes and routines,Nick Saffell 1:41 thinking about the routines, how do workplaces contribute to sort of racial inequality then,Kamal Munir 1:49 basically, based on what I understand of organizations, there are two ways in which organizations contribute to institutional racism. And there are two myths that pervade most organizations. One is that they are meritocratic, and the other is that they are efficient. So, when an organization and the members of the organization understand the workplace to be meritocratic, they automatically assume that everyone who gets promoted everyone who gets hired is on the basis of merit. And if we go deep into organizations, we see that that is not necessarily the case. meritocracy, meritocracy tends to be a myth. And increasingly, there is more and more research coming out, showing exactly why meritocracy remains a myth in organizations. And when we look at organizations numbers, it becomes pretty apparent that there are certain peopleKamal Munir 2:58 based on race, you know, who are just performing much better than others. So if you look at fortune 500 CEOs, 96% of them are non Hispanic whites. In America, if you look at top management in various sectors, you will take finance companies, only 2.4% of executive committee members 1.4% of managing directors and 1.4% of senior portfolio managers are black. Same in technology, only 1.9% of technology executives and 5.3% of tech professionals are African American in America. So similarly, the average black partnership rate at US law firms between 2005 and 2016 has been estimated at 1.8%. So, there are there are significant differences and yet we continue to understand our organizations as meritocracies and the second myth is that of efficiency. So we simply assume that everything that we do is essentially geared towards greater efficiency in organizations. So what we what we realize is or what we must realize is that at the level of hiring, promotion, the opportunities that you get in organizations, your compensation, there is vast evidence that they are not always geared towards efficiency. So these are the two myths, meritocracy and efficiency that tend to that tend to obscure what goes on in organizations and on an everyday basis. workplaces contribute hugely to institutional racism, but escaped scrutiny because we have bought these myths.Nick Saffell 4:55 You gave me a lot of stats about the fortune 500 and I'm just thinking Compared to five or 10 years ago, is there any change happening in reality,Kamal Munir 5:06 the change is extremely slow neck, if you compare today with, you know, five or 10 years ago, certainly there is a change in terms of our appetite for doing something. And, and that is that is encouraging me. Because, you know, as recent surveys show, the share of Americans who see racial discrimination in their country as being a problem has risen from 51% in January 2015 to 76%. Now, similarly, 52% of Britons think British society is fairly or very racist, this is a big rise from similar Bulls in the past. Now, when we look at organizations, on the other hand, things are not quite moving as fast as we would like them to So, between 2004 and 2018, for example, black people experience double the unemployment levels in Britain than white people. Similarly, the UK his annual population survey revealed that black people in employment are still paid less on average than white people. And, and the same thing, when we look at performance in in schools. So, it is not quite the same thing, or not quite the speed at which we would like things to move. In fact, the most revealing thing came out in the 2020 Parker review, which was published earlier this year, of course, which found that 59% of the 256 firms they reviewed, did not meet the Parker review target, which was merely to have at least one director of ethnically diverse background on their board, only 5% of footsie 250 firms had a person of color as director only 5%. And even more shocking, just 2% of footsie 250 companies set measurable objectives for board ethnic diversity. So things are not quite moving as fast. In fact, if you look across the pond, it is shocking that the household income gap between black families and white families in America remains the same as it was in 1968. If you if you look at integration, or segregation of cities, in 1970, American cities were almost completely segregated in that 93% of black residents would have needed to move to ensure complete integration. And when the at the time of the most recent census in 2010, this number was 70%. So yes, there has been some progress, but not nearly enough.Nick Saffell 8:02 that those are some incredibly alarming statistics and figures. But do you think I'm thinking now of 2020? Do you think the BLM movement has sort of been any form of catalyst to get the conversation going within business? And on that my sort of second question would be, are there any big differences in the way that the big companies are sort of approaching it?Kamal Munir 8:28 So in terms of BLM, yes, it has. It has certainly made people you know, sit out and rethink what is going on in organization. So I have been giving talks in in some organizations, for instance, just making them aware that there is a problem out there, you'd be surprised at how many successful people think there isn't really a problem and how many of them think that their organizations are complete meritocracies and, and only pursue one goal which is that of efficiency. Now, what PLM has done is raise awareness that there is a problem. A lot of people still think that you know, this is about this is about the high handedness of American police and, and police suppression of blacks, but it is not just that as I told you the these the status of blacks, the gap between blacks and white remains at at alarming levels. And so, BLM has certainly raised awareness of that now, whether that pressure is going to continue is up to us. So it is up to us to keep the pressure on because when it is when there is external pressure that is when organizations are forced to audit What is going on inside the organization? And and yes, I mean, there will be lots of organizations and there are lots of organizations that essentially have decoupled these things from the actual running of the organization. So they will issue diversity statements, for example. And but what research shows is that organizations that do issue diversity statements, more ethnic minorities are likely to apply to those organizations, but in terms of promotion, there or you know, making it to senior management, there doesn't seem to be any correlation between an organization's signaling that they are, they're diverse, and they value diversity and actually promoting people. So it is up to us to make sure that, you know, they walk the talk. So there is the pressure. Now, in terms of change in companies, yes. I mean, so companies are trying to figure out, what can they do? Or not all companies, I cited, you know, figures from the Parker review. So, you know, I mean, this is, this is still a small minority, but, you know, I mean, many companies, nevertheless, are trying to figure out what are the measures that they can put into place. And some of the measures, of course, are just getting a consultant in to do implicit bias training. Now, the, the evidence on implicit bias training is, is not very encouraging. So, with implicit bias training, you know, 1000 studies show that people soon forget the right answers on bias trainings, the positive effects of diversity training, rarely lasts beyond a day or two. And a number of studies, in fact, suggest that it can activate bias or Spark backlash, even. Now, companies are also experimenting with blind CDs. So not knowing, you know, who they are hiring. Now, we know that there is a practice called whitening of CVS. And I think minorities engage in that a lot, which means simply removing all clues that point to their, their race, or their minority status. And blind CVS are not always easy to, to implement, of course, because you want to find out more about people that you are hiring, but there are a number of organizations that that are doing that. So, you know, we will we will wait and see how much time it will take to become institutionalized. And, and practical. There are a number of other things too, that companies arefocusing on. So some companies are actually forming corporate diversity task forces, not enough. I mean, this is a very small minority. And these task forces simply help promote social accountability. So CEOs usually assemble these teams inviting department heads to volunteer and including members of underrepresented groups. And every quarter or two task forces look at diversity numbers for the whole company for business units, and for departments to figure out what needs attention. People are also beginning to pay attention to mentoring and turning mentors into into champions and rewarding them on how well their mentees do again, very, very few. But this is this is, you know, getting some traction out there. And similarly, what what companies are not doing right now, but they should be doing more of is increasing transparency, because transparency and instituting social accountability tends to decrease bias. So these are just some of the practices that I've observed in in some companies, but not nearly enough.Nick Saffell 14:04 How important is it for the sort of methods to be visible to the general public or stakeholders? So and what I mean by that, I guess, building on that, is it a sort of fine line between appearing to do something and actually making real changes?Kamal Munir 14:22 Well, the real changes are only going to be apparent in numbers. So when we look at numbers, I cited some numbers from the corporate sector, wherever you look, whether you look in professional service firms, so I cited some numbers from from, you know, law firms, and 1.2% of you know, the partners being being Bain. So this is we should see them in numbers right now. We are not seeing them in numbers. I mean today, one of the judges on the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom came out and emphasizing the need For more diversity, and this is this is just all over the place. I mean, there just isn't enough diversity, you look at the top of any organizations, whether it is the NHS, the diversity or the diplomatic service, and you just don't see enough diversity. So if we are serious about this, we should set targets, and we should try to improve these numbers.Nick Saffell 15:24 There always seems to be this sort of, he talked about mentoring, there always seems to be this issue of sort of representation, right? So and it seems like a sort of chicken and egg problem, especially when you're starting with a very white institution. So how do you make it an attractive and inclusive place for non white people to work in an organization?Kamal Munir 15:45 Well, how there are lots of different ways in which you can make an organization more inclusive, and it was down to changing the culture of the organization and culture, of course, depends on no numbers, again, how many people do you have of a particular are they simply, you know, a curiosity? Are they are they integrated? So color blindness, for example, does not work. So you cannot say that, okay, we are going to treat everyone the same regardless of color, because there are there is a marginalized minority in organizations. And we need to be aware of that. And we need to close the gap. And one of the ways of closing that gap is by integrating so forming teams, giving opportunities to beam people to lead teams for other opportunities, so that the somatic gnomes in organizations are challenged.Kamal Munir 16:48 somatic naam simply mean that you know, who, what is the profile of a person that we associate with a particular position. And right now, if you think of if I asked you to think of a Cambridge professor, what image comes to your mind? If I ask you to think of a senior British civil servants? What is the image that comes to your mind. And of course, the image that comes to your mind is one that you have seen most often. And you have also seen that on media. So we need to change all that. And we need to, you know, of course, I mentioned some of the practices mentoring, diversity task forces, and take this as a real challenge, and turn our managers into champions of diversity. And until we do that, you know, we are not going to make progress.Nick Saffell 17:40 So you mentioned the university and that that's a perfect lead in. So what about the university? What is on the cards? What are we as an institution doing? Well, and, you know, what should we be doing better?Kamal Munir 17:56 Well, in terms of the university, one of the things that we have started doing is recognizing that there is a problem. So for the past three years or so, I have acted as the race equality champion for, for the university. And in that I have had several awkward conversations, I have also had absolute revelations in terms of where we are and where we need to go. So there have been absolutely stunning encounters with senior members of the university and of course, with Junior members of the university as well. Just just showing how far we still have to go in in recognizing that there is actually a problem and in addressing the implicit biases that we are all walking around with. I mean, the University mean thanks to it. It's 800 year old history does things in a particular way, but if you look at the top management of the university, it is entirely white. After 800 years Oxbridge appointed the first black female master of a college in a in the form of Sunita Island. So, and you know, so, why is that is the question and again the myths of meritocracy of efficiency, you know, come to come to the fore to obscure the real dynamics of that and this is not just top management when I so we we hold an annual dinner for for Bain people. But, of course, right known Bain people, white people are also invited to that the Vice Chancellor participates in that. Now, when I asked many of my colleagues, beam colleagues to come to that dinner, they're not all but many of them. Have The reaction that why would they want to come to a beam dinner, they wouldn't be caught dead in such a place. That is because the category is still stigmatized, we need to eliminate that stigma, just as you know, I mean, the women's struggle has managed to do that. So women today are not ashamed of going to a women only networking event, for example, Bain people, a lot of pain people still are. So there is there is a stigma that is attached to that a lot of Bain people do not disclose their ethnic background, when they are filling out HR forms, when they are recruited. And, and again, it is because this is the thing that they're going to be discriminated against on on that basis, and they're not going to get the opportunities. And again, when we look at the talk of major organizations around the UK, you know, they have a point that yes, there is discrimination, on the basis of of this difference.Nick Saffell 21:11 What's been the feedback from the student and staff community.Kamal Munir 21:16 So one thing that has really come up in the wake of BLM is that we have gone to our students, most colleges have gone to work to their students, and asked, you know, whether things are how they would like them to be. And the feedback has been that they would like more diversity in pastoral care, they would like colleges to hire more diverse fellows. And and if you look at, you know, college fellowships, again, you know, some colleges might be doing better than others, but in many colleges, there is just very, very little diversity. And students notice that and by the way, the performance of minority students goes up significantly, if they are getting tutored, or, or getting pastoral care from, from people who look like them. In terms of the academic staff in the university. An important figure to notice is that when you come in as a lecturer, the proportion of beam lecturers is about the same as the proportion of Bane people in the United Kingdom, so about 14%. But when you reach the top, which is Professor level, it falls down to only 7%. So if you are being you are less likely to be promoted to full professor, these are things that the university needs to address. So and the pastoral care, the hiring of more diversity, in the fellowships of colleges are again, things that that need to be addressed.Nick Saffell 23:05 So going forward, what are your hopes for the university? And what do you think you as part of your role, what do you think you are going to try and implement over the coming years.Kamal Munir 23:17 So we have a plan. And we have
25 minutes | Sep 29, 2020
Left out of the conversation: Teenagers and Covid-19 - Sarah-Jayne Blakemore
In this episode we speak to Professor Sarah-Jane Blakemore from the Department of Psychology, about the adolescent brain and the return to school.We think about the effects of social isolation on teenagers, the long term impact of Covid-19 and we ask if we are doing the right thing by having students return to university during a pandemic.Sarah-Jayne Blakemore is Professor of Psychology and leader of the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Group. Her group's research focuses on the development of social cognition and decision-making in the human adolescent brain, and adolescent mental health, running behavioural studies in schools and in the lab, and neuroimaging studies, with adolescents and adults.More Information:https://sites.google.com/site/blakemorelab/Twitter - https://twitter.com/sjblakemoreTranscript1Speaker 10:00Hello, and welcome to the university. I'm your host, Nick Saffell. In this episode, we speak just Professor Sarah Jane Blakemore, from the Department of Psychology, about the adolescent brain and the return to school, we think about the effects of social isolation on teenagers, the long term impact of COVID-19. And we asked if we are doing the right thing by having students returned to university during a pandemic. We all know that the return to school is looking different this year, from a teenager's point of view, what are some of the biggest differences. So some might be that things are missing, but some might be real pluses.2Speaker 20:37Cool is very different. It has a lot of young people that are limited to one or a very small number of classrooms for that essence, to try to minimize movement around the school. There are one way systems they the shedule of the day has changed. Of course, there is isolation, if they get a any of the symptoms of covid. And those symptoms are not, you know, completely unambiguous. So if children are getting colds, often families or schools are worried that they might have covid. So that means they have to stay off school until they get it anyway, it's very, very disrupted education. And I mean, I don't have any good solutions to this, I think schools are, are kind of firefighting in a very, very difficult circumstances. And actually, the schools that I know of are mostly doing a really great job in tough circumstances where there's a lot of worry around, and anxiety. But ultimately, the school teachers head teachers really care about educating the young people there. I mean, young people are, you know, can be quite resilient and adaptive. So, young people I have spoken to my own children, their friends, young people I work with, seem to be coping quite well, with with school with going back to school, what I think they found particularly difficult was locked out and not being in school for so many months, many teenagers were not in school for a period of six months when they should have been. And that really is difficult, not only because of the lack of learning, of education of education, academic subjects, but also because of the lack of social interaction and routine and structure that school provides that I think, is what young people that I know, found particularly challenging. Do you think teenagers are sort of taking it in their stride, then I think there are a huge, huge individual differences, some teenagers seem to be coping really well. Others have really suffered over the last few months, partly because of the lack of social interaction face to face social interaction, in the constant changes of rules with regard to social interaction, and also anxiety, anxiety about the virus about family members getting the virus that has affected young people in many different ways. And some, some are more resilient to it than others, just just as adults,1Speaker 13:02we're hearing a lot about the sort of behavior of young people respect to the spreading of COVID-19. And how that affects older generations. It's almost as if generations of being set up in opposition to each other. Well, that's sort of the way it talks about at least in the UK. Now, is there really anything different about the behavior of adolescents compared to other generations? Not with respect to like the spreading of the virus, but more generally, you know, what's sort of special about the, you know, the teenage, adolescent brain?2Speaker 23:32I mean, you're you just ask the most enormous questions. Sorry, I didn't start by saying that. I really find it sad and distressing, this kind of us versus them, blame culture where young people have been blamed for just doing what they naturally need to do go out and socialize, meet other people affiliate with their peers, meet romantic partners. They're just doing what teenagers and adolescents young people have always done. And that and they're being you know, in the media, and by politicians, they're being blamed for this natural behavior. And it really is creating a sort of polarization between younger people and older people. I think that's absolutely the wrong way to go about this. And there is a lot of evidence that the best way to encourage positive behaviors, for example, health behaviors, in young people is to educate them about the harmful effects of unhealthy behaviors, let's say, and then encourage them and incentivize them to create their own campaigns where they can educate each other about why it's a good idea, for example, to social socially distance from each other in this case, it's really, there is no evidence that adults lecturing and blaming. Young people will have any positive effect on young people's behavior. In fact, it might be counterproductive. So you also asked about how the brain and behavior is different in young people in an adult? And that really is a big question. And the answer is that both behavior and the brain are undergoing huge amounts of development in adolescence. And there are behaviors that are really quite different in adolescents. Of course, one caveat here is that not all adolescents are the same. There are huge individual differences. Some adolescents show take teenage typical behaviors, whereas others don't. That's the kind of proviso but um, so in terms of behavior, we know that behaviors like risk taking and sensation seeking are heightened in adolescence, we also know that those kinds of behaviors like risk taking behaviors are most likely to occur when teenagers are with their friends. So that propensity to take risks, when you're with your friends is heightened in adolescence compared with in other age groups. And this is because adolescents are particularly susceptible to peer influence. And that's probably for perfectly conferred adaptive reasons, like adolescents need to affiliate with their peers, work out where they are in the social hierarchy become part of a peer group that's really important process, as adolescents are becoming, or in their journey towards becoming an independent adult. So that they're just a few examples of behaviors that seem to seem to be different in adolescents compared with adults, in terms of the brain. The brain is undergoing very substantial and protracted development during adolescence in all sorts of ways, both in terms of its structure and its function. And we used to think 25 years ago that the brain stops developing in childhood, we now know that that's absolutely not true. We know this, because we're able to scan the living human brain using MRI scanning. And studies that have used MRI scans, to to track changes in the child and adolescent brain, as children and adolescents grow up have shown that, in fact, the brain continues to develop right throughout childhood, and throughout adolescence, and even into the 20s and early 30s.1Speaker 17:21Sorry, for the huge question I'll make this one is a slightly shorter one. So what are we sort of hearing from teenagers right now? You know, one of the biggest things in their lives is obviously school. But as they return to institutions, sort of what are we hearing? What are the sort of channels for their voices to be heard on this sort of unusual return to school?7:42Is your question about adolescents being involved in decision making? And1Speaker 17:47yeah, I think so it's, where is their voice in this part of the conversation?2Speaker 27:52Where is their voice? You know, where it's such a shame and such a lost opportunity, not to include young people in these policy decisions, that the policy decisions affect them? They should really have a say in what the in what the policies are? I mean, of course, they shouldn't have the only say, because they might not have information that no scientists and and policy makers have, but they should have some say and yes, I mean, the evidence suggests that when adolescents do have a say, when they have a say, in creating campaigns, for example, those campaigns work more efficiently than campaigns that are just led by adults.1Speaker 18:36In terms of public health guidelines, you know, should that be sort of guide? You know, the guidelines are sort of put out regardless of age, do you think teenagers should be given a different set of guidelines sort of set, you know, now that we know that science sort of tells us that different age groups behave differently?2Speaker 28:54So Young, we know that the social needs of young people are different from the social needs of adults, we know that, for example, let's just take adolescence because that's the that's the period of development that I I've been working on for the last 18 years. And we know that adolescence is a kind of sensitive period of social development, the social brain is undergoing huge amounts of change, as is social behavior. This is the period of life when young people need to affiliate with their peers peer evaluations matter more in adolescence than at any other age. And adolescents need, they require social interaction in order to do social learning, and also the development of best their own self identity. So to impose the same kind of limits on social interaction in adolescents and adults might not make sense if you take into account the social needs of adolescence. I know that recently. I mean, the rules change all the time, at the time that we're doing this interview. There's the rule of six around the country. But it's different in the different developed countries. And in Scotland, for example, the rule of six does not include children under the age of 12. Again, children under the age of 12 really do need to play with other children in order to do social emotional learning, it's really critical. So I can see why that has been brought into policy in Scotland, and Wales. In Scotland. Also, there are different rules for teenagers aged 12 to 18, compared to adults, and again, I think what that demonstrates is that Scotland has the social needs of children and teenagers in mind when it's making its public policy decisions. And I think that's a really positive outcome in Scotland, it's not happening in England, maybe it will, at some point,1Speaker 110:55some thinking, you know, the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 are affecting a much broader population because of the mental health apps. So effects, but the physical effects are sort of only, you know, affecting such a small amount of the population. So thinking sort of in the long term, you know, this is what I'm thinking, what are the sort of effects on mental health that aren't really sort of being talked about? Because we only really hear about the physical side?2Speaker 211:21The first thing to say is that the physical side? Well, I don't downplay the physical side, actually, because as we learn more about coded, it seems that it's not, it's complicated. And it's not just mortality rates that we need to worry about, but also what is being termed long COVID, for example, and I do know a few people who have long COVID, they young and healthy or previously healthy, and they've had, they've been really unwell for the since March when they first got COVID. So over six months now, and they still have, they still have various physical problems. So I don't want to downplay the physical consequences of COVID. This is a nasty disease that I don't think anyone wants to get, um, having said that, the physical effects of covid are one element that need to be factored into the policy equations. Another element, another factor is the is mental health, mental health of people who, for example, might be socially isolated, because of their social rules, or because of lockdowns, the mental health of people who might have lost their jobs, or have been pushed into poverty or who are worried about that, that mental health is we are learning from the large number of studies that have been carried out on mental health of people during the last six months, during COVID. across the world, mental health is really suffering in some people, and that absolutely needs to be factored into any policy decisions.12:54Because it was basically I just wanted to, you know, think about1Speaker 112:59what the effect of isolation is going to have on children, you know, or adolescents and teenagers is basically the simple question that was going to ask,2Speaker 213:06that's, it's a great question, what effect social isolation is might have on children and adolescents. When the lockdown in the UK first happened in March, and I and some of my colleagues immediately started to worry about this, it was such an obvious thing to worry about for us because we work on the social needs of adolescents and social brain development in adolescence. We know that adolescents require social interaction with peers in order to undergo normal social learning and development. So we got really worried about what depriving them of face to face peer interaction would do to their development and their mental health. And with with a couple of colleagues, Dr. Livia to mover and Dr. Amy Orban, we started to write a review on this. And this is partly because we had already, for the previous nine months, we had already been planning to do a study looking at the effects of social isolation on adolescent behavior and adolescent brains. just purely by coincidence, we have been planning, we've been planning the study, partly because Livia, to mover, who's a research fellow at Cambridge had been a postdoc at MIT and had been researching the effects of social isolation on adult brain and behavior. So Livia wants to come to Cambridge, to work with me to look at the effects of social isolation on adolescent brain behavior. So we've already been discussing this, when this kind of so called natural experiment of COVID lockdown came came into place. And, and it made us think we really, we really need to think about this and to think about what the consequences might be now. We know that adolescence is a sensitive period of social development. However, most of the research on the effects of social isolation on the brain and behavior Mental Health in adolescents comes from animal studies. And that's because up until now, it has been thought to be just not really ethical to isolate adolescents, from their friends and to look at the effects on on their brains and behavior. But you can do that in animals. And many, many labs around the world for the last 40 or 50 years have been looking at that in rodents. So mice and rats. And what they have found is that social isolation in adolescent mice and rats, they go through about 35 days of adolescence, those rodents, and social socially isolating them during their adolescence has unique effects, and more damaging effects on their brain development and behavioral development and mental health, compared with the same social isolation carried out either before adolescence or before puberty, or in adulthood. So there is something about adolescence, that means that it's a period where social interaction with other animals is required.1Speaker 116:06So I'm thinking about, like, going back to the return to sort of school and sort of education. And we've talked about the importance, you know, the mental health of isolation, and so forth, and the things that might have happened over the last six months. So thinking about it, is it sort of realistic to expect sort of educational sort of institutions to sort of prioritize sort of mental health, more over education? For example, I'm thinking young children, and we've heard a lot more about trying to put more emphasis on play. Is that a sort of false sort of choice?2Speaker 216:40I think that's such a good question. And I would say, absolutely, I mean, we know that children and adolescents are going back to school after six months away, in many cases, with some of whom have heightened levels of anxiety and other mental health problems. We know that from from data and schools are reporting that to so a focus on their mental health is now more important than it ever has been. And it had, it had been becoming more and more important, as it seemed that over the last decade or two mental health problems in adolescence have been on the increase, and now more so than ever because of covid because of lockdown.1Speaker 117:22Okay, so thinking about like schools, and obviously now sort of switching to slightly to universities, because obviously, you're, you're obviously a lecturer, and some thinking should sort of university sort of change some of the sort of priorities and principles that have previously guided them. And then thinking personally, are there any things that you are sort of thinking about changing to your approach to this sort of teaching year?2Speaker 217:51If I start with the second question first, so my approach to this teaching it I mean, it's the first year that I will have one is my first year that I've ever taught in Cambridge, because prior to Cambridge, I was at UCL. And it's the first year I will have ever taught lectures online. And I mean, we're all you know, we're all struggling to make our lectures to put our lectures online and to make them as interesting and interactive as possible. There are all sorts of ways you can encourage online interaction with students to make them feel involved and engaged. So that that's the first I mean, that all University lecturers and professors around the country around the world are doing the same thing. It's, it's like nothing we've ever experienced before, but we're trying to make it as interactive and an enjoyable and engaging as possible for students. The second question, though, is about your first question you asked was about the student experience this year, and actually, we're only just starting to learn about it because it's September, and students really just going back in most universities in Cambridge, they haven't come back yet. I have been hearing so many distressing stories about students, you know, these are 18 year olds, adolescents, leaving home for the very first time going to universities and basically being isolated in their rooms. Even if there isn't a if they're not in actual isolation, because of COVID COVID, just because of the rules make it very difficult for them to go out. And then lots of them are in isolation because someone in their dorm lover test tested positive. I mean, I do wonder whether this is the right strategy for such young people going out for the very first time living independently for the very first time.
31 minutes | Sep 9, 2020
Reimagining the future of the post Covid-19 university - Simone Eringfeld
In this episode, we speak to Simone Eringfeld, MPhil student at the Faculty of Education and producer of the Cambridge Quaranchats podcast. We talk about education in the time of Covid-19, how the move to online education will affect the idea of the university and how she sees the disruption as an opportunity to reimagine the future of the post Covid-19 university. Simone shares conversations from her Quaranchats podcast where guests reimagine the learners’ journey, possible ways forward, and how institutions like Cambridge might embrace necessary change. GuestsSimone Eringfeld @SimoneEringfeld MPhil student at the Faculty of Education @CamEDFac , educationist, writer and photographer. Co-Chair of Cambridge Peace and Education Research Group @CPERGUKResearching ‘post coronial’ futures of Higher Education. Podcast host of @CamQuaranchats. More infohttp://www.simoneeringfeld.com/https://blogs.ucl.ac.uk/ceid/2020/07/09/eringfeld/https://www.cam.ac.uk/stories/UE-Simone-Eringfeld
31 minutes | Aug 26, 2020
Working parents in the Age of Coronavirus - Helen McCarthy
In this episode:We speak to Dr Helen McCarthy, a Historian of Modern Britain at the Faculty of History and Author of Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood. In recent months, many working parents have had to juggle looking after kids at home with their usual jobs.We talk about how the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on working mothers. We take the historical perspective and the long view to try and make sense of these gender divisions. We talk about our reliance on childcare, the broader economic impact of the last few months on women, and how to ensure it is truly valued in the coronavirus recovery. Guests:Dr Helen McCarthy (@HistorianHelen), Historian of Modern Britain at Faculty of History (@CamHistory) and Fellow of St John’s College (@stjohnscam) Author of Double Lives: A History of Working Motherhood @BloomsburyBooks More Info:https://www.hist.cam.ac.uk/people/dr-helen-mccarthyTranscript:Unknown Speaker 0:00 Hello and welcome to the other university, a podcast about the people who make Cambridge University unique. I'm your host, Nick Saffell. In this episode, we speak to Dr. Helen McCarthy, a historian of modern Britain at the Faculty of History, and author of double lives, a history of working motherhood. In recent months, many working parents had to juggle looking after kids at home with their usual jobs. We talked about how the pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on working mothers. We take the historical perspective and the long view to try and make sense of these gender divisions. We talked about our reliance on childcare, the broader economic impact of the last few months on women, and how to ensure it is truly valued in the Coronavirus recovery. Just tell me a little bit about your experience of lockdown so far?Helen McCarthy 0:52 Well, my experience of lockdowns probably fairly similar to that of many other working parents, I've had my two primary school aged children at home for most of it, they managed to get back to school for a few weeks towards the end of the summer term. But it's been pretty intense and pretty full on. I've been trying to do my teaching and my university work. My husband, who's a lawyer, has been working at home doing some virtual court hearings, which has been a new experience for him. And it's been, you know, we've been sort of tag teaming it, trying to sort of muddle through as best we can. But it's been it's been a pretty stressful period.Unknown Speaker 1:34 So do you think it's changed your working practices as a family? With this sort of future mindset? Do you think it's going to change how you'll go about work?Helen McCarthy 1:43 Well, I've talked a lot about this with with my husband, who has only been into his chambers in central London once since the beginning of lockdown. And it certainly seems that for the legal profession, there may very well be a longer term shift towards doing a lot, a lot more online, including potentially quite a lot of court hearings, virtually. So that could be a permanent shift. And I think for universities, for my for my line of work. I mean, online teaching, obviously, is the immediate future for us, because University of Cambridge is, has announced that it will be providing all lectures online, at least for Michaelmas term, and then a great deal of my undergraduate teaching. And master's level teaching will also be online with hopefully a little bit of face to face teaching in there as well. But I don't know I mean, the future is really open, I think it will obviously come down to how soon we get a vaccine, whether we can work out some social distance, teaching methods that work really well. And how the pandemic pans out, I think over the next six months, I mean, I do think that the longer we are in this groove of doing everything online, the more likely it is that it will embed itself and become permanent.Unknown Speaker 3:02 Can you tell me a little bit about your your background and also about your new book?Helen McCarthy 3:08 Sure. So well, I teach modern British history here at the university and I have been in posted September 2018. And before that, I spent almost a decade teaching modern British history at Queen Mary University of London, which is in my land in East London. But I am a Cambridge product. So I did my undergraduate degree in Cambridge, then did my PhD in London, and worked for a little while for a think tank Think Tank demos in the early 2000s, which was a really interesting contrasting experience from from academia doing research in a very different kind of environment. But I'm originally from ethics from Colchester, where I grew up, spent most of my childhood and teenage years. And well, I think that's probably most that I can say about myself of any interest. And my book. Yes, so my book I've written a book called double lives the history of working motherhood, and it was published earlier this year in April, actually, really just a few weeks after the lockdown had started. So I initially felt quite sorry for myself launching a book under lockdown, but then realized that actually the themes of the book which are all about how mothers juggled care and paid work in the past, were incredibly pertinent, particularly given the theme of homeworking because home based waged work was actually a theme that came through very powerfully in my research, I suppose it might be something we'll be talking about a bit more in a minute. But the book is really meant to be a pretty broad big social and cultural history of mothers who worked for pay in Britain since the mid 19th century. I wanted to write a book that really just try to sort of tell the story of how women did it, how women have different social classes, women in different parts of the United Kingdom, women of different ethnicities. women doing very different kinds of jobs and in very different kinds of family circumstances. So women who had husbands women who didn't, and really just tried to kind of bring the story, paint a big picture on a big Canvas, as I say, over 150 years,Unknown Speaker 5:17 looking back in history with that sort of lens, what has sort of COVID taught us about the importance of childcare and labor in general,Helen McCarthy 5:24 I think COVID has, has exposed something well, which people like me already knew, yet, perhaps other people didn't. Which is that if you if you have a mass withdrawal of state subsidized childcare, by closing nurseries, by close by childminders no longer being able to work, by closing schools, by getting rid of after school clubs, breakfast clubs, and very importantly, by cutting off access to informal sources of childcare, so for a large chunk of the lockdown, families couldn't draw on grandparents or relatives or neighbors or friends to help out with childcare. If you withdraw all of that, then we can see what happens. And what happens is that the sexual divisions which already exist in our society, are magnified. And all of the research that's been undertaken since the lockdown shows very clearly, that it's women, it's mothers, who are shouldering the burden of childcare, of homeschooling, of housework as well in the home. And these are things that they were doing in greater quantities than men before lockdown, but it has been exacerbated and intensifies, under under the conditions of COVID.Unknown Speaker 6:44 So is it been equally felt across not just for industries and sort of classes as well? So you've talked about working mothers, but is it more greatly affected? The types of industries and just different types of classes?Helen McCarthy 7:00 Do you mean in history or currently?Unknown Speaker 7:02 Or both? Really?Helen McCarthy 7:05 Sure. So I was very interested in trying to trace different the different childcare solutions that women from different classes or in different industries adopted in the past. And there are some really important differences. So women of the middle and upper classes who on the whole didn't work for wages, but there were always exceptions. They were pioneer women, doctors, they were writers, artists, and so on. And they tended to have nannies, and governesses and servants who worked who worked in their own homes, so they were sort of pretty well suited for childcare. And also the upper middle classes, really right through to the later 20th century also made use of boarding schools. It was fairly standard to send your certainly your sons off to boarding school at quite an early age. And that was you know, perfect childcare solution. For those for those classes. For women working in the Lancashire textiles industries, which was an area which had a very strong tradition of married women's work right from the early years of the Industrial Revolution. They tend to use child minders. And these were often grandmothers, they might be relatives, they might be neighbors, women who live very close by maybe just the next street along. And they would pay those women to look after their children after that, and including often very young babies when they were going to the factory. And most other women, it's a it's a kind of mishmash of other things. So you find a lot of evidence in working class communities of older siblings looking after their younger, younger siblings as one childcare solution. And in fact, often the older daughter of the family might have been kept home from school, or might not have herself gone out to work straightaway after leaving school because she was needed to look after the home, including looking after the younger children. I mean, the one sort of common theme is that formal institutional, high quality affordable daycare I nurseries, is really the missing ingredient throughout the 19th and 20th century, that very, very low numbers of nurses and crashed with the exception of the two world wars, which we might talk about later. And really even in the late 20th century high quality affordable institutional daycare is there is not enough of it nowhere near enough of this.Unknown Speaker 9:35 Have we sort of fallen backwards in some way now that all responsibility for children is basically fall on fallen on the parents up finishing the burden might be equally shared. But I'm thinking about a lot of tropes at the moment and recurring themes.Helen McCarthy 9:51 Well, I think there's a real danger of regression. I think we're at a quite a crucial moment. Because, you know, this is we're still very much in this sort of temporary Price display phase, it's not clear now what the long term consequences of the COVID crisis will be. In terms of childcare, we know that a great number of nurseries in the UK have already said that they may not be able to reopen after the crisis has passed, because they they basically run out of cash because they weren't at the government, although they plowed billions of pounds into the furlough scheme, and into propping up other sectors, they have not done that for nursery daycare. So there's a real danger that actually when when schools come back, or when, when when when things begin to resemble, you know, turn back to something resembling normality, actually, a lot of work and parents will find that their nurseries are no longer there. And of course, with many parents who are unemployed, who lose their jobs, or who are financially struggling, they may not be able to afford to pay for nursery places. I mean, the UK has some of the most expensive daycare in the whole of Europe. So that's a big problem. So I think I think we have to, you know, we have to see what, what happens. I mean, there has been there a lot of sorts of pressure groups that have been very vocal about this. The Labour Shadow Cabinet, have been very vocal, pressing the government, but I'm afraid that government itself has not been terribly attentive or proactive on this question specifically about what happens to the childcare sector.Unknown Speaker 11:29 childcare in Britain is always been viewed by the government as a government, not only I shouldn't say just government, government and employers, as a sort of private matter for parents has always been the case.Helen McCarthy 11:40 Yes, I think that's a really good way of characterizing it. So Britain has this liberal welfare tradition, which has largely placed daycare beyond its remit. So, local authority funded nurseries, were available for families in crisis, essentially, families where it was deemed desirable for the children not to be at home with their parents. Also, local authority funded places might have been made available to unmarried mothers, for example, or single mothers, who the state did not want to support with income support, and we wanted to go out wanted to push those mothers out to work. So there's a sort of paradox there. I mean, the two exceptions would be the periods of the two world wars, when there was a very strong pressure on government to mobilize women's labor in order to to prosecute its war aims. And both during the First and Second World Wars, a huge amount of money, particularly during the Second World War was channeled into opening day nurseries for use by the children of mothers working in essential industry. And, you know, there are over 1000 of these war nurseries opened during the Second World War. And they made a huge difference. I mean, they showed you what life would be like for working mothers working full time, who could actually leave their children in a high quality, safe, highly state subsidized childcare system. But they were seen very much as temporary measures for the purpose of the emergency of the war, and in 1918, and then again, in 1945, they were nearly all closed. And the government's position then was, well, you know, we're not going to stop mothers from going out to work if they want to, because after all, we are liberal. Well, we are a liberal democracy, we don't tell women what they can and can't do. But we're not going to do anything to actually help women reconcile their caring responsibilities with their desire or their needs to work for wages. And that's something for them to sort out either by getting granny to come and look after the kids, or by paying for child minder around the corner to look after the kids. It's not something that the state has the responsibility to sort out.Unknown Speaker 14:09 We've had, like a couple of viruses recently, where I'm thinking, I'm just thinking of a bola Zika, and swine flu and so forth. And obviously, there must have been some sort of lessons learned. And I know you're not looking at this from a public health perspective. So I'm not thinking about that. But there must have been some lessons learned in terms of like, what it did to the labor market, and also to gender equality. You said earlier that it's dramatically affected women more than it has affected men. And I'm just thinking, have we sort of missed a trick? And are there any sort of long lasting effects that we can see, I'm thinking mainly of Africa, there must have been some gender equality issues there.Helen McCarthy 14:47 I'm afraid I it's a fascinating question. I'm afraid it's not something that I know very much about. I mean, my I would, my suspicion would be that you know, that policymakers In the UK might think that there might assume that there's only limited lessons to be learned from from Africa, for example, because it has such a different social structure and labor market. But I mean, but I don't actually know that. I mean, what has struck me is how, how ill prepared the government seems to have been for this, when when dealing with this particular gender issue, and often, Boris Johnson has spoken about people going back to work encouraging people to go back to the office, encouraging people to work at home. As though there is no childcare issue as though the child as though it doesn't seem to occur to him that actually, a huge chunk of the workforce now is made up of women of mothers. And you know, over 770 5% of mothers with dependent children are now in the labor market. So of course, you know, they must be doing something, someone must be looking after their kids, they must be somehow getting some childcare in order to be in the labor market. So you know, it's not a surprise, it shouldn't come as a surprise to the government. And yet, it seems as though it has that if you withdraw childcare, at a stroke, you're going to have an issue with your workforce with a large chunk of your workforce who's not going to be able to work.Unknown Speaker 16:22 And on a sort of a long term sort of view. What is this going to do towards women's career in the future?Helen McCarthy 16:32 Well, again, I think the jury's out, we have to, we have to wait and see. I mean, I think in some ways, in some respects, the cultural shift towards home working could help women, particularly perhaps, in corporate environments, which have been rather hostile to homeworking in the past, which have demanded long hours, which have a sort of culture of presenteeism of sort of being there in the office until you know, after midnight to show how committed you are. I think if there is a culture shift, and those sorts of organizations were by home working, but becomes more of a norm, that could have a positive impact in the longer term thought for working mothers and for parents more generally. But, you know, I think a lot of it will come down, as we've already discussed to the childcare issue. Because if there is no childcare working at home, as we've discovered in the lockdown is incredibly stressful. I mean, it's one thing to be working at home, having drop your kids off at school, and then being able to go and pick them up later on. And everything works very nicely. It's all very flexible. It's quite another when you're, you know, trying to do a business meeting, and you've got children kind of knocking at the door or under first. And that's not going to be good for anyone's career. So I think the two things are really related home working could help them as careers but only if the childcare issue is sorted.Unknown Speaker 18:00 Yeah, okay. And on that note, I'm just being very conscious of the fact that we're talking about childcare, and we're talking about working motherhood. Now that there's a discussion there, and what hap, why are they so tightly linked? How would you go about disassociation, childcare and working mothers? How could we possibly separate the two there?Helen...
37 minutes | Aug 5, 2020
Taking care of your digital wellbeing - Tyler Shores
In this episode we talk to Tyler Shores about digital fatigue and distraction, and how we can all take care of our digital wellbeing.We also talk about his experience of setting up an entirely online high school, and how we can think about online learning in a much more holistic way.
26 minutes | Jul 10, 2020
The social media professional who's passionate about helping his community - Ibrahim Rahman
In this episode we talk to Ibrahim Rahman about how he’s been raising money for Cambridge City foodbank and helping Muslim families struggling with hardships during the pandemic.We also talk about his journey from Wimbledon to the social media team at the university, and how he’s been using his expertise to help Cambridge Central Mosque engage with the community during lockdown.
34 minutes | Jun 11, 2020
How building cars is a bit like studying the brain - Nicole Horst
We talk to Nicole Horst about her journey from the body shop of a car manufacturing plant to a research project studying obsessive compulsive disorder, and about finding her true passion for advocacy and supporting other young researchers.As this is our first episode recorded remotely during the coronavirus lockdown, we also talk about her role in a volunteering project that’s supporting NHS workers with vital protective equipment.To find out more about donating PPE supplies, contact email@example.com.
33 minutes | Jan 24, 2020
The polar explorer using Grime to break the ice - Prem Gill
It’s not often someone compares the voices of seals to the sounds of space set to a Grime beat. But when he’s not monitoring seals from space, PhD student Prem Gill is using ‘Seal Grime’ as one way to encourage people from a wide range of backgrounds to take up polar science.My PhD research, which is a joint project with the Scott Polar Research Institute, British Antarctic Survey (BAS) and World Wildlife Fund, uses satellite images to study Antarctic seals. By monitoring the seals, we can gain a greater understanding of their habitat preferences and population trends. Through this analysis we can learn more about the health of the entire Antarctic ecosystem.This is crucial because what happens in the polar regions, effects the whole world. The Arctic and Antarctica act like a thermostat for the planet. If you can monitor what's going on in these areas, you can get an idea of what's going on globally, which has huge implications for assessing the effects of climate change.What comes to mind when you hear the words ‘polar scientist’? A sepia-tinted photograph of a Victorian explorer? A modern-day researcher in a brightly coloured padded jacket and sunglasses? You probably wouldn’t picture someone who looks like me. I’m first?-generation British-Indian working class.In the 200 years since Antarctica was first discovered, there have been huge strides in terms of women in polar science. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for people from ethnic minority backgrounds. I’m working to change that.I know from experience that a number of factors can stand in the way of young people like me from pursuing a career in something like polar science– this could be cultural expectations, financial pressures or quite simply not having role models that look like you.
25 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
The star rower whose research examines teachers’ perceptions of intelligence - Daphne Martschenko
Daphne Martschenko, president of Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club, is determined to make the sport of rowing more accessible. Her mission to pave the way for greater diversity in rowing chimes with her study of the charged concepts of race, socio-economic status, intelligence and genetics.Read more here: medium.com/this-cambridge-life…igence-59467a7e18e2In 2015 I became the first person of colour to row in the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races. The Men’s Boat Race originated in 1829 and the Women’s Race in 1927. To realise that I was the first non-white face to take part was a shock. Rowing has always been seen as an elite sport but I hope this is changing. I would like for people to see me and think there is a place for someone like them in the sport as well.As a child growing up in the USA I absolutely hated sport. My parents thought it was important for me and my younger sisters to do outdoor activities and they tried very hard to interest me. I did swimming, ice-skating, baseball, soccer and basketball. I didn’t really click with any of them, and most certainly not with swimming and ice-skating. I thought of myself as more of a nerd than an athlete.One day I spotted a rowing eight on the Potomac River. I did lots of drama and I was in the school mini-bus on the way to a Shakespeare theatre competition in Washington DC. I said to the friend sitting next to me “What’s that?” Her sister rowed and she explained what rowing was. I liked the idea of being on the water and not in it.My state school in Virginia offered rowing. I knew I needed to get fit before the season started so I joined the cross-country running club. I was a big kid and one of the slowest. But, when you’re learning the basics of rowing, it’s all about strength. I was strong, even if I wasn’t the most fit. At last I’d found a sport I was good at.Rowing opened so many doors for me. It gave me confidence and that helped me to do well academically. Without rowing, I wouldn’t have applied to universities on the west coast which seemed a world away from Virginia. I went to Stanford University where I majored in Russian language and literature and medical anthropology.My father is Ukrainian and my mother Nigerian. At home we speak English. For several years when I was a child we lived in Eastern Europe and Central Asia — Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Ukraine. Because of this, I love learning languages. At school I took Latin and at Stanford I studied Arabic in addition to Russian. Languages are like a superpower, I would love to be able to speak every language in the world. In Cambridge I’ve continued with my Russian.At Stanford I continued to row. I took part in the Under 23 World Championships in 2012 and 2014. In my four years there I learnt how to pack a lot into life. I love lists. In my room at Magdalene College in Cambridge I have a white board with a weekly schedule of tasks I need to do. Just at the moment writing up my doctoral thesis is top of the agenda.I came to Cambridge to do an MPhil and stayed on to take a PhD. My MPhil was in Politics, Development and Democratic Education. My doctoral research looks at the social and ethical implications of behavioural genetics research. It examines teachers’ perceptions of intelligence, class, and race — and the possible effects of these views on student achievement.In the USA, where I carried out my fieldwork, people don’t want to talk about race. They avoid it. I think this happens in the UK as well. This reluctance made it very difficult for me to carry out my research — I deal with sensitive topics. Fortunately, I managed to run focus groups in two schools and survey over 600 teachers. I think having these critical and open conversations is a key to avoiding misuse and misinterpretation of scientific research and to ensuring that marginalised and historically oppressed groups are not further harmed.Research says teachers perceive non-white children as being less ‘bright’. This bias has a huge effect on teachers’ expectations and subsequently on student achievement. We urgently need far greater diversity in the teacher workforce. In my case, I was placed into a remedial reading programme when I started primary school for what seemed like no reason to my parents.Both my parents immigrated to the USA. My mother arrived in 1993 so she spoke with an accent. Because my mother and grandmother went to enrol me in school, without my dad, the school assumed I was growing up in a single-parent immigrant household with low level English. When my father, who’s white and grew up partly in New York, went into the school to ask why I was identified for special education, I found myself back in the ‘regular’ classroom.Genetically-sensitive schooling is one of the latest ideas coming from behaviour genetics. Essentially, it’s the notion that you can tailor education to a child’s genetic profile. It’s problematic because it can be essentialist and deterministic. Categorising and labelling children influences teachers to think of children in certain ways, especially in the USA where there are achievement gaps along socioeconomic and racial lines.There’s an ugly history behind the founding of behavioural genetics that was used to justify race- and class-based differences. These implicit associations between race and class and ability remain — and the re-emergence of behavioural genetics into the popular domain runs the risk of re-inscribing bio-determinism into education, an institution often seen as a way to achieve social mobility.People told me that Cambridge might be a culture shock. But I quickly felt at home here. Rowing helped a lot because right away I met inspiring and amazing women. I joined the Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club and rowed in the Blue (first) Boat in the 2015 and 2016 Oxford and Cambridge Boat Races. This year I rowed in the reserve boat (Blondie).Rowing has been a big part of my life at Cambridge. Training takes up so much time and energy. Three times a week in term time, I’ve been getting up at 5.18am — yes, it’s that precise — and catching the 5.55am train to Ely where we train on the River Ouse. In the afternoons there’s yet more training on land in the Goldie Boathouse back in Cambridge.In May 2017 I was voted in as CUWBC president. This was a huge honour and I’ve loved it. To have the chance to represent Cambridge University in the biggest university rowing event in the world is a true privilege. I’ve seen it as an opportunity to talk about increasing diversity in the sport of rowing and put across the message that we need to be making it more accessible. Our Blue Boat won against Oxford in 2017 and again this year in 2018. In fact, all our boats won, both men and women. The last time that happened was 1993.What will I do next? At present I’m concentrating on getting my dissertation written. I used to think I’d apply to the Foreign Office given my love for languages — but now I’m considering either staying in academia or going into education. I’m involved in a non-profit organisation called Camp Phoenix that seeks to empower low-income youth through academic learning in the summer months. That kind of hands-on work has direct impact in the fight for social justice.I love reading — especially memoirs. Most recently I’ve read Educated by Tara Westover. She was brought up in a Mormon fundamentalist family in Idaho and didn’t go to school until she was 17. She educated herself, got into university, and eventually took a PhD at Cambridge. Her story is inspirational. If you haven’t read it, you should.Daphne Martschenko is a PhD candidate in the Faculty of Education.This profile is part of our This Cambridge Life series.
37 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
AI and the classroom. Using machine learning to identify why children struggle at school - Duncan Astle
In this episode we chat to Duncan Astle, a developmental neuroscientist, who’s based at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit. Duncan and I talk about his recent study that uses machine learning to identify learning difficulties and why children may struggle at school. We also talk about his work with Pride in STEM and how the current scientific research publishing model needs to change.
23 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
The Student Working to Make Education Accessible to Everyone- Shadab Ahmed
Final-year chemist Shadab Ahmed reflects on his sabbatical year as Cambridge University Student Union Access and Funding Officer, the importance of role models, and how increasing diversity within universities could be the start of seeing real change in society as a whole.https://www.cam.ac.uk/thiscambridgelife/shadabahmedFinal-year chemist Shadab Ahmed reflects on his sabbatical year as CUSU Access and Funding Officer, the importance of role models, and how increasing diversity within universities could be the start of seeing real change in society as a whole. This year I’m returning to Cambridge to complete the final year of my degree. I’ve been at Cambridge for four years now, three as a Chemistry undergraduate and one as the Cambridge University Student Union (CUSU) Access and Funding Officer.I’ve been involved in access work ever since I received my offer from Cambridge. Before I even started here, I took part in an open day at Christ's talking about my experiences of applying to Cambridge. As a fresher I helped with mentoring and summer schools. Later I became the student undergraduate Access Officer for Christ’s College. Access work not only changes the lives of individuals for the better but also begins to address the inequalities in society as a whole. I’ve seen first-hand how people’s lives can take such different directions depending on the support and opportunities they are given.It’s been amazing to see school pupils from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds coming right through the summer school scheme and begin here as students. Now they’re carrying on the cycle by mentoring other young people from similar backgrounds. It’s so important for young people to see students like themselves in university or similar spaces.There’s lots of different mentoring schemes, which cover every aspect of the application process through to starting university as a fresher. Mentors might help with schoolwork to make sure students don’t miss out on entry grades or simply be someone who can give advice and support.Although I didn’t have a mentor myself, what made all the difference for me was the encouragement of my teachers. However, I know from experience that schools can be very different, and some don’t have the resources to help students with applications. Nobody should miss out on university because their school’s funding has been cut. I think it's important that we can bridge the gap wherever we can to ensure that everyone who does want to make a strong application to University can get that chance to do so.With all the good access work going on here, it's really discouraging to see the media pushing a negative narrative. They always say that Cambridge is for the likes of the white middle-class and the elite. This type of coverage is really harmful as it dissuades people from applying.Having figureheads like Stormzy for our access work is great. It's been so powerful to see black students saying: “we belong and thrive here.” Hopefully, there will be a shift towards this sort of positive perception – towards thinking that Cambridge is a place for all of us. Going forward I’d like to see greater diversity of support, especially from other ethnic minority groups, such as Bangladeshi and Pakistani advocates.Universities have a responsibility to diversify our intake. The makeup of university populations means that certain groups of people often dominate influential spheres of work: government, media, journalism, leading companies. It’s important to make sure these professions are representative of the UK population.Shifting the narrative is essential. We need young people from minority or disadvantaged backgrounds to see themselves as worthy to achieve these top positions. If there is nobody like them in these roles, we need to convince them that they can be the first.Outreach opens doors for people and opens minds. Ultimately, access work is vital to reshaping the course of our country’s future. I myself come from a minority background and think it’s incredibly important for our voices to be heard – so we can begin to challenge the oppressive systems in place in society.In the future I’d like to get involved in shaping educational policy. I’d like to put structures in place that mean that students from all backgrounds, especially from the most disadvantaged and underrepresented backgrounds, have access to higher education.
29 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
The Neuroscientist Working To Prevent Suicide In Teenagers - Anne - Laura Van Harmelen
We talk to Dr Anne-Laura van Harmelen, a neuroscientist, who became fascinated by the brain as a teenager, after her dad gave her a copy of Oliver Sacks’ The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. Today she’s investigating adversity and resilience and is part of an international collaboration working to understand, and ultimately prevent, suicidal thoughts and behaviours in teenagers.www.riskandresiliencegroup.uk/twitter.com/ProjectHOPEStwitter.com/DrAnneLaura
39 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
The Doctor Using Smartphones to Save Lives in War Zones - Waheed Arian
Having survived the civil war in Afghanistan, Waheed Arian arrived alone in the UK aged 15. He went on to study medicine at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. Today he’s using smartphones and volunteer specialists to provide life-saving medical advice to doctors working in areas of conflict.www.cam.ac.uk/thiscambridgelife/waheedarianMy father knew we had only minutes before the bombs reached us. He grabbed me and ran to a nearby village. There he found a house and inside a bread oven in which he hid me. I remember the billowing dust, coming from every direction.I was five years old and we were escaping the conflict in Afghanistan. The Khyber Pass and Torkham border were closed and so we were taking the Tari Mangal route to Pakistan. We travelled in a caravan of 20 to 25 families, the donkeys and horses tied together, carrying the women and children. We had some oiled bread and a little sugar to eat throughout the whole journey.For safety we travelled at night, with only the moonlight to see by. As the sun rose, we would find places to hide until we could continue our journey. It took us seven days to reach the refugee camp. Over the course of that week we were attacked three times by air and tanks.We felt safe at the refugee camp in Peshawar Pakistan, but the conditions were very poor. Our family of ten lived in one room. We had a few cushions and a fan – but still the temperature reached highs of 45 degrees. Within a few days of arriving we contracted malaria and three months later I caught tuberculosis (TB).I decided I wanted to become a doctor when I was recovering from TB. The doctor who was treating me was always smiling despite the conditions of the camp. I didn’t have any toys so he gave me an old stethoscope to play with. He also gave me a well-thumbed medical text book which I treasured.We stayed at the camp for three years before returning to Kabul, my home town. The Soviet troops had left but the civil war continued. Each day we hid in the cellars as the rockets, shells and bombs fell. War became normal.Waheed as a child. Credit: Andrew Price/ View Finder PicturesI learnt English by tuning into the BBC World Service, after my father had finished listening to the radio, hoping for some good news. The schools were closed so I taught myself using books brought off the street from people trying to make a little extra money to pay for food. My parents, neither of whom had been to school, knew there was no future for me in Afghanistan, so at 15 years old they sent me to the UK.I arrived in London, alone, with $100 in my pocket. I felt daunted but also happy and excited. For the first time in my life I was safe, and ahead of me lay so many opportunities. For the first week I stayed with a family friend on Portobello Road; I then moved into a flat with other refugees.I was told I should stick to labour work – perhaps working in a chicken shop or becoming a taxi driver. These are hardworking jobs, and I admire people doing them, but my dream was to become a doctor. So I took a job on Edgware Road as a salesman, found some GCSE books and studied every spare moment. I even hid my books under the counter so I could read them when the shop was quiet. I persuaded a local college to allow me to take an assessment to see if I could study for A levels. I passed - just.I wanted to prove a point so I took five AS levels. I completed all five AS subjects achieving A grades. In my second year, I completed three A levels achieving A grades. I needed to continue working while I was studying so I had to enrol at three different colleges, taking classes during the day as well as in the evenings.I met someone who had just graduated from Cambridge and he suggested I should apply too. I was not convinced, but agreed to visit the city. When I saw that all the students were just normal people, from a variety of backgrounds, I began to seriously think of applying. I later went to a Trinity Hall open day, where I met Dr John Bradley, at the time a Fellow of Medicine. He spoke with humility and had such a welcoming manner that my mind was made up – I would apply.Tutors told me that nobody from my colleges had attended Cambridge before, and so my teachers were hesitant about me applying. But after I achieved A grades in all my subjects my teachers agreed to write me a supporting statement. I attended an interview at Cambridge and a couple of months later I received a letter offering me a place to study medicine at Trinity Hall, this was one of my happiest days since arriving in the UK.Cambridge was one of my first experiences of formal education and so I had a lot to catch up on. The first two years were tough and I struggled academically, socially and financially. However, the Senior Tutor Dr Nick Bampos and Dr John Bradley stood by me and said I’d make it through.They were right – by my third year I’d overcome these challenges and even got a first in my research project. I graduated in 2006 and went on to finish my clinical studies at Imperial College London, winning a scholarship to take an elective at Harvard, USA. I qualified as a doctor in 2010 and worked in various hospitals before settling in Liverpool as a radiology and emergency specialist.Waheed on graduation day at Trinity Hall, Cambridge.All the time I was trying to think of ways I could help war-stricken people back home. I would travel to Kabul whenever I could and teach or help the doctors on the wards. My NHS colleagues were also keen to help but working in Kabul was dangerous.Patient rounds in Kabul hospitalAt the time some NGOs were beginning to use telemedicine. This involves using computers, laptops and monitors to transmit images or information and to offer consultations. Initially I tried to establish this in Kabul but the necessary equipment was too expensive and it wasn’t possible to secure a specialist room or someone to coordinate the calls.I realised that smartphones were the answer. Here was a technology which most people had access to: it was a way of connecting medical professionals across continents. I began to imagine what could be achieved with a network of medics offering specialist advice to doctors in areas of conflict. I went from hospital to hospital recruiting doctors to join me. Arian Teleheal was born.Today we have over 100 professionals who are giving specialist medical consultations in their free time, from their sitting rooms. We currently support doctors in Afghanistan, Syria, South Africa and shortly, Uganda. It’s very much a two way process with our volunteer medics also learning from our colleagues working in areas of conflict. It’s tremendously rewarding for everyone involved.Teleheal in actionOn any one day we might be having real-time discussions about a head injury, road traffic accident or trauma, following a blast. When a patient first arrives at one of the hospitals we partner with, local medics give an initial assessment and perform any relevant immediate investigations. They will then use their mobile phone to send details of the case to a coordinator at Arian Teleheal who will pass it onto one or more of our volunteer specialists. The specialists then give medical advice by text, video call or phone call.We’re at the beginning of our journey. Our vision is to give everyone in low-income or war-torn countries access to the best healthcare in the world, in line with the United Nations and World Health Organisation vision.This profile is part of our This Cambridge Life series, which opens a window on to the people that make Cambridge University unique. Cooks, gardeners, students, archivists, professors, alumni: all have a story to share.Waheed is an Afghanistan-born NHS doctor in Liverpool and NHS Innovation Clinical Entrepreneur Fellow Mentor, and an alumnus of Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He has been awarded the UNESCO Global Hero Award 2017 and the 2018 Rotary International Peace Award for his healthcare charity Arian Teleheal. He has just launched the Arian Global Academy which aims to help people all over the world develop entrepreneurial, innovation and leadership skills as well as focusing on personal development, wellbeing and communication.
21 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
The Woman who Brought Space Invaders to the UK - Pat Marsh
In this episode, Charis and I speak to Cambridge University alumna, Pat Marsh. When we recorded the interview, we didn’t have any of the studio equipment with us, just a phone, but we thought it would be a crime not to share Pat’s incredible story.Pat was the first woman in the UK to hold a gaming licence and in 1979 she brought Space Invaders, the arcade game sensation, to the UK shores.Pat has had a distinguished business career, most recently serving as Executive Chairman of Philip-Treacy. Philip Treacy’s hats have adorned the heads of royals and celebrities alike, including Grace Jones, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Beyonce and Victoria Beckham.https://medium.com/this-cambridge-life/the-woman-who-brought-space-invaders-to-the-uk-and-is-championing-womens-sport-7f1aa8ffedb8I grew up in Tipton, a working class town in the Midlands. All my family lived locally so we were always in and out of each other’s houses. People always think that, if you are hard-up, things are difficult but everyone was the same, so we didn’t know any different.My sister reminded me recently that we had to sleep with our coats on the bed to keep warm. We had a flat roof and each year someone put up a new tarpaulin to keep the rain out. But it wasn’t completely watertight so there were always buckets around.Although we were poor we were also proud, with polished shoes. My father joined the Grenadier Guards at the age of 15 and fought with the Desert Rats in North Africa.Since reading Malory Towers I’d always dreamed of going to boarding school. But then I heard of such a thing as university, after watching the The Student Prince and The Wild and the Willing at the local Odeon, and thought that sounded even better.I was the only girl from my school to go to Grammar School and the only girl to go on to university. In those days girls went to secretarial or teacher training college so this was unusual. I got a place at Hull University to study geography, which was my best subject at school.University in the 1960s was magical. One time at the Old Hill Plaza George Harrison held my hand – what more could a girl want in life?After university, my career started with slot machines. I’d set up a business to service these machines in cafes. We started being asked about a new game called Space Invaders, so went to a trade show in Japan and ended up forming a joint Japanese company, which was the first to bring Space Invaders to the UK.We had to file down the slots, which were just big enough for Yen, so that 10 pence pieces could fit in. Everyone wanted one and we found ourselves airlifting these arcade games to businesses all over the UK.It was a crazy time. We had two Japanese colleagues living with us, one dealing with imports and exports, the other with technical issues. Because of this my children picked up Japanese.Later we decided to just import the electronic components and build the machines in the UK at Ace Coin Equipment Ltd in South Wales. This meant we needed to design a circuit board for the new range of machines, which led to my first association with Cambridge. One of our directors, Keith Arnold, knew of two young men, Hermann Hauser and Chris Curry in Cambridge who were paid £20,000 to design the new board. With this money they founded Acorn Computers.Haute couture hats have been my most recent business venture. I served as Executive Chairman of, and was a major shareholder in, Philip Treacy Ltd. Philip’s couture hats have been worn by royals and celebrities and are widely regarded as works of art. I have some hanging on my wall at home.I sometimes feel like someone who wears lots of metaphorical hats. A year or so ago I did a course at Cambridge Judge Business School. We were asked what we would like to be doing in five years’ time. I wrote down: Magdalene College, sport and archaeology - my three loves. And here I am, organising alumni reunions, cheering on the girls on the river and supporting archaeological research. I love all my hats, real and metaphorical.Patrick Ryan, Assistant CUWBC Coach and Pat Marsh in the launch following ‘Blondie’ This profile is part of our This Cambridge Life series, which opens a window on to the people that make Cambridge University unique. Cooks, gardeners, students, archivists, professors, alumni: all have a story to share.Pat is the Executive Director and a former Chairman of Cambridge University Women’s Boat Club, a Trustee of the Hawks’ Charitable Trust, and Director of the Executive Committee of the Ospreys. She is the Alumni Secretary and a Fellow Commoner of Magdalene College. She sits on the Management Board of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research and is a member of the Alumni Council at Cambridge Judge Business School.
35 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
Releasing the Imagination: the University of Cambridge Primary School - James Biddulph
Welcome to We are the University. A podcast about the people who make Cambridge University unique.In this episode we meet James Biddulph, the headmaster of the University of Cambridge Primary School. www.cam.ac.uk/primaryschoolWe talk about the school’s character and vision, how a trip to Nepal helped him realise that he wanted to teach as a career and we find out how he inspires the team of teachers that work with him.www.educ.cam.ac.uk/people/staff/biddulph/More than just an outstanding Ofsted rating sets the University of Cambridge Primary School apart: it places research at its heart, informing education practice and furthering research at Cambridge’s Faculty of Education and elsewhere.Visitors walking through one of the ‘learning streets’ that run through the core of the University of Cambridge Primary School (UCPS) soon notice something unusual. It’s not the fact that they end up back where they started – the school’s Polo-mint-shaped structure is just one of its radical features – but the startling lack of doors: classrooms open up invitingly on each side of the street, with snatches of lessons, storytelling or music audible within.The open-plan design both facilitates and symbolises the school’s role as the first, and still only, University Training School at primary level in the UK (the only secondary UTS is in Birmingham). Sponsored by the University of Cambridge, its role is to provide brilliant and inclusive primary education for its local community, and also to work alongside the University’s Faculty of Education and others to be research informed and research generating.Building from the work of the Faculty of Education, the school identified three ‘golden threads’ that bind together its curriculum: habits of mind (the resilience and problem-solving skills that help children learn); dialogue (exemplified in the new DIALLS project); and playful inquiry. The aim, looking forward again, is to “empower children to make sense of the complex world in which they live” and nurture “compassionate citizens who want to make a positive contribution to their local and global worlds.”
32 minutes | Nov 11, 2019
From Discovering So Solid Crew to Researching Hate Crimes - Julian Hargreaves
Welcome to We are the University. A podcast about the alumni, staff and students who make Cambridge University unique.In this episode we chat to Julian Hargreaves about his life in the music industry discovering talent like So Solid Crew and why he chose to leave the music industry and pursue a career in academia.We talk about Julian’s research with British Muslim communities; the issues around anti-Muslim discrimination and hate crimes.
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