December 30, 2015

2015: A fantastic year for Warwick

lFor the final blog post in our 50@50 series, the 50th project team look back on some of the highlights of our anniversary year.

Well, what a year! Our celebrations started way back in December 2014 when, after a year of planning, we started our celebrations with a launch dinner to say thank you to all those people who were pivotal in making the University what it is today.

Over the year many departments took the opportunity to celebrate in their own way with their own events, and we were astounded that there were over 50 additional activities on top of what we were organising. It was clear that departments had put in a lot of time and effort to ensure that their events were well organised and delivered to a really high standard, and we were impressed that they really embraced the central theme of the 50th anniversary - ‘Imagining the Future’.

Our GRPs also held a range of 50th anniversary events in five strategic locations across the world. An exciting programme of research-led events took place in Brussels, Hong Kong, Singapore, Venice and Washington focusing on 'Sustainable Futures'. You can find out more here>>

We held the first ever Warwick Music festival in May, where we worked collaboratively with the Arts Centre to put on a three day music festival. With the Arts Centre leading and the 50th team supporting, the music festival had cross-generational appeal. There was unique and exciting food and drink, alongside free performances and walk-about entertainers, drawing on the talents of local musicians. The Butterworth Hall played host to the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Django Django (supported by Unknown Mortal Orchestra) and Joan Armatrading (supported by Lucy Anne Sale and Garfield Mayor).

The 50th anniversary provided a great opportunity for us to announce the University’s unique partnership with Cheltenham Festivals; a partnership that spanned across all four Cheltenham festivals (Literature, Music, Jazz and Science) and our Festival of the Imagination. You can read more about the partnership and all of the events here>>

We’ve had some great features on our website this year and, if you’ve not already checked them out we’d really recommend you take a look. This 50@50 blog has featured some fascinating alumni, academic and administrative staff and students, all of whom provide a bit of insight into ‘their’ Warwick and their thoughts for the future. The celebration poetry showcases the best talent at, or to come out of, the University and the count up to 50 series provides a snap shot of the last 50 years.

With a third of Warwick's alumni living outside the UK the alumni team wanted to make sure that they were as involved in celebrating Warwick's 50th anniversary as alumni in the UK. An International Alumni Week was held and countries were encouraged to hold their own celebrations alongside ours, countries as far afield as Luxembourg, Kenya, Mexico, Iraq and Canada all held celebrations.

Our highlight of the year was, without a doubt, the Festival of the Imagination. It was the first time the University had attempted anything like it and it was a huge success. The festival was two years in the planning and really hard work – but such good fun! We had the chance to work with lots of different teams across the University, all of whom helped to make the festival so fantastic.

We had 450+ volunteers (both staff and students), 50+ student performers and 110 speakers over 64 scheduled events and 30+ drop in activities. We welcomed 8,400 visitors and around 900 school children from 18 regional schools to campus over the two days.

The year has been a great experience for us all and we were privileged to be involved in so many ‘university firsts’ – the first Warwick Music Festival, the first International Alumni Week and the first Festival the Imagination (to name a few!) We hope to see events of this nature, which bring together the whole Warwick community and showcase the excellence research and people, continue in future years.

We want to end by saying a huge thank you to everyone who has been involved in celebrating the University’s 50th anniversary; whether that be attending events, holding your own activities or volunteering, you’ve really helped to make this year very special.

Here’s to the next 50 years!

Nicola, Emily and Christine

Reflections on the 50th

fullsizerender2.jpgAs our 50th year draws to a close, the anniversary project team - Nicola Hunt, Emily Little and Christine Fearn, from External Affairs - share their thoughts on what has been an unforgettable 12 months.

What was your overall experience of the year and being part of the 50th team?

Emily – The whole year from start to finish was an amazing thing to be part of. The variety of projects and events we covered from December 2014 onwards really meant there was consistently a lot of energy and creativity in the team and we thrived on the challenges. Looking back now the inevitable stress of putting on such high profile and public facing events was worth it and the laughter and support I got from the whole team carried us through and bonded us into a strong team.

I enjoyed coming up with the ‘light bulb’ visual identity with its vibrant colour scheme and then seeing it used in so many creative and imaginative ways throughout the year – from the giant billboard outside NAIC, the flowerbed outside the MRC, on dinner invitations, on aprons, on flags made by the international alumni for their reunions and even printed onto edible rice paper as part of a dessert (thanks to Graham Crump!).

Christine – My overall experience was very positive. The 50th team was really small so we all had the opportunity to get involved in every aspect of the planning and delivery of the celebration. It was great to be able to showcase some of the excellent work being done in academic departments at the festival, whether that be through the engaging talks and debates or the hands-on interaction in the Discovery Zone. I also really enjoyed hearing what departments around the University and our alumni were doing to celebrate. They really embraced the ‘Imagining the Future’ theme and held some great events.

Nicola – It’s been great! For me this project began in September 2013, and from then onwards it gathered pace to all but sweep the rest of my normal job aside. I’m really pleased to have had the opportunity to be involved in something so wide-ranging and ambitious. We set out to celebrate the 50th in a very forward-looking way (it would have been easy to wallow in nostalgia!) and I think we’ve managed to strike the right balance, and done it in a very Warwick way. The 50th team quickly developed into a strong team, and I’m proud of what the team achieved this year, especially as there were only three of us!

What was your best moment of the year?

Emily – So many to mention... From being proud to hear the poetic voices of the young IGGY members and their student mentors carried across a spellbound Butterworth Hall at the Gala Dinner, to seeing the smiling, lit up faces of the first group of the 900 year 6 schoolchildren that entered the Discovery Zone with ‘wows’ and ‘cool’ on the schools' day of the Festival of the Imagination.

From working with and meeting some fantastic people, including alumni Torin Douglas and Serena MacBeth, inspiring chef Vivek Singh and screenwriter Andrew Davies, to finally seeing my creative vision of the Discovery Zone come to life with such vibrancy and energy from the thousands of visitors that passed through the doors and the wonderful, enthusiastic Warwick academics and volunteers that worked so hard over the whole Festival weekend.

Christine – My best moment of the year was the schools' day at the Festival of the Imagination. This had been one of my key projects and I was keen to ensure that it ran smoothly. It was a great example of how teams across the University can work really well together: security took charge of the school buses' arrivals and departures, the Arts Centre staff ensured that the children were ushered around the Arts Centre calmly and safely, we collaborated with the Centre for Professional Education so we could have 100 PGCE students to help us on the day and the University events team helped the 50th team to manage the day and ensured timings were kept to. There were so many other people involved too and I was so grateful for everyone’s help and involvement.

Nicola – I don’t think I could identify a best moment (unless you count the lie-in I had the morning after the Festival of the Imagination finished!) There are so many highlights! From launching the year in a transformed Butterworth Hall with an event that was not only a dinner, but a full production to 200 guests of the University, to spending a week at Cheltenham Science Festival in the Science Faculty marquee engaging with thousands of visitors excited by science, to the Royal visit by Princess Anne, through to the Festival of the Imagination which I can’t really sum up in just a few words… There have been so many high points, and they’ve all come about through great team work and collaborations across the University.

What has been the most challenging part of the year?

Emily – Not sure there’s been too many bad moments, although the most emotional I’ve been was watching the National Grid Discovery Zone being dismantled and feeling like the year had come to an end.

Christine – Definitely the week in the run up to the Festival of the Imagination! I wasn’t quite anticipating the amount of last-minute changes there would be, the schedule was being amended right up until the last minute.

Nicola – I’m not going to say it was the worst moment, but there was a special kind of realisation that dawned on me after the initial excitement of hearing that we were having a Royal visit, when it hit home that that visit was only 10 days before the Festival of the Imagination… Let’s just say I’ve never known a workload like it…but it was totally worth it, as that was a really special day to be part of.

What will you take away with you from this experience and would you do it all again?

Emily – That it takes a fantastic team effort to pull off what we did. There really is nothing like team work. That our academics and students really do step up when it comes to engaging with the public and they constantly made me feel proud to be part of the Warwick community. I would definitely do it all again in a heartbeat, yes! With lessons learnt and the knowledge that there is still so much more to Warwick and what we can share with the public, our staff and our alumni, another Festival would definitely be something I would love to be involved with. I certainly won’t forget this 50th year in a hurry.

Christine –It was such a great experience being part of the 50th team and I have learnt so much, so YES, I would love to do it all again!

Nicola – It’s been really apparent throughout the whole planning and delivery of the 50th that there’s great enthusiasm across the University to reach out and share what we do with the wider community, and there is also an audience out there willing to engage with us to find out more. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat.

Pictured (left to right): Christine Fearn (50th Anniversary Project Officer), Emily Little (Creative Producer, 50th Anniversary) and Nicola Hunt (University Events Manager).

December 21, 2015

Student democracy in 2015

As our 50th year draws to a close, Olly Rice, Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick SU reflects on the past 50 years of student democracy at Warwick.

"I’m Olly Rice, the current Democracy and Development Officer at Warwick SU. Democracy and Development is at face-value a bit of strange role: it means overseeing not just democracy, but SU outlets, events, and finances. Very few SUs have this role. Usually it’s left to administrative staff, but then very few SUs have as healthy a turnout and turnover as Warwick SU, one of the largest and most active SUs in the country.

Indeed Warwick SU doesn’t just have ‘democratic’ as a stale requisite necessitated under the 1994 Education Act, it actively strives to embody that and be truly accountable and representative to its students. This is reflected in a democratic structure that has been revised significantly over the years and decades. Indeed, this year we’ve curtailed the talk-shop that was Student Council and now elect students to eight new, action-orientated SU Execs. Where other SUs can get stuck in bad institutional structures that place barriers to student engagement and barriers to its own change, ours is a living, breathing and dynamic democracy. We genuinely try to empower our students to propose, organise, and carry out the events, campaigns, support and advice they want rather than just administrative staff who can and do provide excellent support to facilitate this.

The Sabbatical Officer roles themselves have also changed over the years with the first Sabbatical positions only being created and funded in the mid-70s, over a decade after the University was created. The SU back them was much smaller, and its increase in size, space, staff and representation has been hard won along the way. Indeed some things never change with student protest occupations on campus in recent years against tuition fees being the same tactics used successfully in gaining the SU its first building in the 70s.

Back then though; democracy was a lot more direct and communal than now. A smaller University, student assemblies on core topics of the day (including on controversial University decisions such as revealed student admission decisions by the then Vice Chancellor, Jack Butterworth) could gather around half the total student population to actively listen and discuss the issues. Now we facilitate All Student Meetings on our policy discussions, however our voting is online, but then so is many of our students’ private conversations, which often happen over social media. Democracy has changed to reflect this and will continue to do so. This improves its accessibility and in fact in absolute numbers empowers more students than ever before.

This doesn’t just include Sabbatical Officer elections, part-time officer elections and other direct SU Representatives. It’s easy to forget that every SU society and club is democratic too, as are the 700+ Student-Staff Liaison Committees students elect Couse Reps. These are the bread and butter of academic dialogue and student experience on campus in which democracy is at its core.

However, over the years Higher Education across the UK has become increasingly marketised. Rather than proving a benign force, it subtly but strongly changes the way students interact with and value their University environment. This is pervasive with markedly increased quantitative pressures from living costs, accommodation costs, degree classification, and competition for academic time and resources as well your final grade. This heightens the place of individualistic and materialistic values in society, values that are juxtaposed to the values of altruism and community embodied by democracy. Democracy, in short, wasn’t designed to give the individual and direct benefits students are being conditioned to expect.

This is interesting when you’re the Democracy and Development Officer, which necessitates interacting with students as consumers in our outlets, and as voters in our elections – two identities that are not easily conflated, no matter what the Economics Department tells you!

So when it comes to how democracy will change in the next 50 years, it can often seem like a small fish swimming furiously against a torrential river in order to increase participation. Despite this bigger picture, what we might in fact be seeing is that most students do still take part in democracy, but the democracy they perceive to be the most relevant to them – whether in their societies or on their course - and that’s no bad thing.

It takes a strong SU to keep not only turnout healthy, but a good quality of student participation. In the next few years it’s imperative that we work towards restabilising the links between democracy and its perceived relevance to the increasingly pressurised student. In reality though, Warwick is that strong SU. With a large number of student societies, strong levels of accountability, a good working relationship with the University, and elected Officers working day in and day out to improve the student experience and act on policy passed by our students, Warwick SU is more relevant to its students than ever before.

The next 50 years need to build on this solid foundation in the fast moving river of Higher Education."


December 15, 2015

The Warwick Student Newspaper Project


Coinciding with our 50th anniversary, the Modern Records Centre is currently working on a project to digitalise copies of our student newspapers from years gone by. Lizzie Morrison, Assistant Archivist at the Centre, tells us more.

If you want to learn about the history of this University from a student perspective then the best place to look is in the newspapers which were written by Warwick’s student population. However, the original print copies kept at the Modern Records Centre have become extremely fragile over time and are susceptible to damage caused by constant handling.

That’s why the Modern Records Centre took the decision a few years ago to embark upon a lengthy project to digitise and make them available online. A dedicated team undertook the scanning of every page of each issue of the mainboar4.jpg student newspapers, creating metadata and carrying out OCR work as they went along, and even now staff are hard at work to add to what’s already available through the Warwick Digital Collections pages. You can view the newspapers here:

At this website you will find issues of The Giblet and Campus and the first 50 editions of The Warwick Boar. Using the Advanced Search option will allow you to search for words or exact phrases in a range of different fields, such as Title, Page, Creator and Contributors. You can also narrow down your searches using the ‘Search by date’ option. So, if you studied at Warwick during the sixties and seventies why not try searching for photos of friends or looking for the events which defined your time here?

For everyone else, here are a few facts and some student journalism which may be of interest…

First things first, here’s an explanation of how Campus got its name (‘EXIT GIBLET’)……..

…… and a quick summary of how The Warwick Boar was shaped by its successive editors (‘Still BOARing After All These Years’)

…… and a photo from 1976 of the staff who worked on The Warwick Boar


Next …

A sample of the types of articles available on line so far :

‘Paxton in Berlin’

A student’s view of the University Art Collection, and a personal appraisal of the Women’s Liberation Movement: and 

But the best articles (and the most entertaining) cover everything that happened on campus, from student protests and antics to union politics. You can read interviews with academic staff and find out which famous bands visited Warwick.

The papers also show how the campus landscape changed. For example, it’s hard to believe that where the giant Let’s Not Be Stupid sculpture stands near the bus interchange there was once an inflatable student entertainment space known as the Air Hall. In a sneak preview of an issue not yet online, here’s the article all about it (see article to the right.)

If you want to find out what other headlines and stories have been uncovered from the pages of the The Giblet, Campus and The Warwick Boar look out for the tweets posted by @warwicklibrary. We hope you enjoy them!

December 14, 2015

Cycling 20,000 kilometres across 33 countries in 365 days: Meet The Green Wheels


Earlier this year, three Warwick students set off on an adventure of a lifetime - cycling 20,000km around the world, with the aim of promoting renewable energy through microfinance. They tell us more about their project, 'The Green Wheels', in today's 50@50.

Tell us a bit about each member of the team.

The three of us all come from different regions in France but ended up finishing our high school years in Paris and came to the UK for university. All undergraduates at Warwick, Louis is studying Politics, while Maxence and Roland are studying Management at Warwick Business School. We all have very different qualities that are essential to the team. Louis is the " sales" guy, always finding a good way to add value to the project; Maxence is great at organisation and planning things; and Roland is the dreamer, doing everything to achieve our goals. We're convinced that these different features make our team more efficient.

How did you meet ? M

The three of us met during our first year at Warwick. The fact we were all French 18-year-old freshers definitely helped us to bond quickly! We had all had similar pre-university experiences and had decided to study in the UK for the same reason: to discover something new. These similarities led us to spend a lot of time together, speaking about our future and discussing projects that we could build together.

What the does the project involve ?

Our project involves cycling 20,000 kilometers in 33 countries in 365 days to promote renewable energy through microfinance. Basically our goal is to meet (and, where possible, financially support) as many small entrepreneurs as we can who are willing to satisfy their energy needs through renewable sources of energy. Once back in Paris we will allocate 30,000 Euros to the projects we admire the most. This money has been raised through various corporate sponsors such as the Warwick Group Research Project Energy, IATL, Bouygues UK, Europcar, Laboratoire Carrare, MyTravelChic and many others as well as through a crowdfunding campaign.Louis

Why and how did you decide to do this project? Who helped it to become a reality?

We spent our first year at Warwick sharing our ideas and opinions about what was important for us: politics, entrepreneurship, finance, environmental issues and many other things! We all wanted to build something that could be a mix of features that were important for us. We wanted to do something that could, to a certain extent, change the future of others. We always dreamed about being actors of a better future and we wanted to start as soon as possible. Being passionate about entrepreneurship and being aware of the the "green energy revolution", we started focusing on these two aspects, looking for something to bring them together.

In September 2013, it was Roland who first came up with the idea of linking entrepreneurship and renewable energy with a powerful financial tool: microfinance. He suggested we do it while achieving a childhood dream of his: cycling the world. The three of us loved the idea and decided to start the project and undertake this year-long challenge. After working a few weeks on the project, Maxence and Louis came up with the idea of raising as much money as we could in order to finance the trip but also, and more importantly, to finance green entrepreneurs all around the world.

Hundreds of people helped us to make this project a reality. Our friends and families were the first ones offering us crucial advice, followed by personal tutors and teachers. We also had really great support from our partner Babyloan and Entrepreneurs du Monde, who helped us a lot on the microfinance and micro-entrepreneurship aspects of the project. Finally all our sponsors (including the University of Warwick!) and all the people who trusted us gave us advice that enabled our team to make our idea a reality.

What do you hope to achieve during the year ?

We're always trying to make the most of this experience. During this year we have one main goal: Making our project a success in achieving our personal goal - cycling all around the world and coming back to Paris in 365 days while discovering as many new cultures as possible - and our social goal - meeting as many green entrepreneurs as we can and financially supporting them. We want to show people that a multitude of small actions can lead to big changes and everyone can undertake these small actions. Our final objective is to show other young (and less young!) people in Europe that we have to be the ones to build a better future and that the number of opportunities is constantly growing.

Have you had any favorite moments so far ?

We worked for almost 13 months on this project and have already cycled more that 6,000 kilometers. Of course we have had moments we preferred but as a whole this adventure has been great from the day we decided to build the project until now. If we had to choose a favourite moment, we would have to say that the departure was incredibly memorable. It was very satisfying thinking that we had already achieved a big objective and that it was the start of something new: the adventure. During the trip, our favourite country so far has been Bolivia. After getting over the hardest challenge - climbing the Andes - we spent one month cycling on the "Altiplano" at more than 4,000 metres crossing the Titicaca lake and the famous Uyuni's salt lake.

What has been the hardest part of the journey so far ?

The hardest part of the journey had definitely been the long climb of the Andes. We climbed 4,000 metres in less than a week on dirty sand roads! We were cycling at an average of 8km per hour and crossed a summit at 4,457 metres high. We spent two days cycling in snow - but we had hardly any winter clothes and it was so cold that our stove didn't work! Nevertheless, during this difficult climb we crossed a natural reserve full of mind blowing landscapes. This challenge forced our team to really work hard together and we now feel very proud having achieved it! After more than four months on the road we discovered that we can look back at every challenging moment and laugh.

What are you looking forward to most during the rest of the year ?

We just spent a long time in Central and South America, so we're really excited about discovering a new continent! Australia and Asia will be fantastic - we have many green projects waiting for us there. We'll also visit Bangladesh, where Mohamed Yunus initiated the idea of "Green Microfinance". The constantly changing environment makes the trip unpredictable and fantastic and that is why we have the chance to experience something new every day.

What do you plan to do after the project is over ? Do you have any plans for after graduation ?

We'll be back in Paris by the end of July 2016. Our short term plan is to continue to promote the values and the idea of The Green Wheels. Moreover, we're in touch with other young entrepreneurs who are looking to start similar projects or other kinds of social businesses. We would like to share our experience with them in order to help them to build their projects.

We all loved this first entrepreneurial project and we are certain that this experience is likely to guide our life after graduation. We are constantly thinking about new projects to start and new ideas. After experiencing first hand social entrepreneurship we might move towards a more "classic" kind of entrepreneurship.

Video #4 From Peru to Bolivia from The Green Wheels on Vimeo.

Visit The Green Wheels website >>
Follow the team on Facebook >>
Follow the team on Twitter >>

December 11, 2015

Life at Warwick in the 60s: Audio interview


In our previous 50@50, Economics student Amanda told us about her interview with John Rothenberg, one of our very first students who came to Warwick in 1965 and studied Economics and Maths. In today's post, listen to extracts from that interview. (You might need to put your volume up.)

Why did you decide to come to Warwick?

How did you feel on your first day, coming to a brand new university?

Were there any clubs and societies at Warwick in the 60s?

What was it like studying Economics and Maths at Warwick in the 60s?

What was your accommodation like?

How did you feel about graduating?

What career did your degree lead to?

What do you think of today's facilities and opportunities at Warwick?

How do you hope Warwick will develop over the next 50 years?

December 09, 2015

How has Warwick changed since 1965?

JAnd AEarlier this year, around a hundred of Warwick's very first students came back to campus for a reunion coinciding with the Festival of the Imagination, the pinnacle event of our anniversary year. One of the organisers of the reunion was John Rothenberg, who studied Economics and Mathematics at the University from 1965 - 1968. We invited one of our current Economics students, Amanda Dedmon, to interview John about his time at Warwick and how his experiences at the University have benefited his career.

As some of you might remember, this year, the University of Warwick celebrated its 50th birthday with a weekend of the ‘Festival of Imagination’. The weekend was filled with a diverse range of events that showcased the work done at Warwick focused around a central theme of ‘Imagining the Future’. The events ranged from cookery demonstrations to talks and debates, with lectures on the future of science and some wonderful market stalls colouring the Piazza!

The 50th anniversary also celebrated some of the first students at Warwick, who began their degrees in 1965. I was given the opportunity to interview one of these former students, John Rothenberg, who attended the University from 1965-68 and studied Economics and Mathematics.

We started the day bright and early at 10am in a quiet corner of Radcliffe House, where the alumni were staying for a weekend of reminiscing of their years spent at university. It was a pleasure to meet Mr Rothenberg, who was incredibly friendly and welcoming and eager to share his experiences of Warwick with me, and compare how much one place can change in only 50 years.

What struck me most during our conversation was the Students' Union and the clubs and societies that were available at Warwick in 1965. Today, I believe that we take for granted the vast range of societies and sports clubs that exist at Warwick – they are an integral part of university life, and something that I’m almost certain every student here gets involved in. But what are clubs and societies without members?

The very first students to arrive at Warwick in 1965 were the founders of the clubs and societies that we merely expect to be in place upon our arrival. Mr Rothenberg’s ambition and willingness to get involved in the creation of the Students' Union and various clubs, such as men’s football, struck me as very impressive – creating a successful club today would take considerable organisation and courage. The ability that Mr Rothenberg demonstrated at Warwick to adapt to new situations and create something huge from nothing benefited him hugely throughout his career.

In addition, the interview showed me that although there have been substantial changes to campus, the integral mission and philosophy of Warwick has remained much the same – a university that is determined to always improve and develop, never being complacent and always looking to the future. Warwick was one of the first universities to offer joint honour degrees, demonstrating a modern approach to education through blending the power of its strongest departments, before other universities realised the benefits of joint degrees.

As campus continues to evolve, it’s nice to know that Warwick will fundamentally never really change. The University will continue to be engaged with the local community, be home to a fiery Students' Union and top the national university tables in a wide range of subjects. When asked if he would choose Warwick today, Mr Rothenberg replied with an unequivocal yes!

We'll be posting excerpts from Amanda's chat with John in our next 50@50 post.

Amanda is one of our student bloggers, regularly sharing her experiences of life as an Economics student at Warwick. Take a look at her posts >>

December 07, 2015

Five favourite moments from Term 1


As the autumn term of our 50th year draws to a close, Psychology fresher Amreet Sarai shares her favourite moments from her first few weeks as a Warwick student.

Term 1 has been an amazing rollercoaster, being both overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Of course there are many memories that I've made within the space of just over two months, but I'll recount my top five favourite moments for you all.

1. Joining societies

Going to the society fairs during freshers' week was so much fun, since we were able to explore what was on offer and were shocked by all the cool and unordinary societies that you wouldn't expect to exist. I especially loved going to all the meet and greets because I got to meet so many new people. One that I have pictures from is the Asian Society (ASOC) meet and greet, where I don't seem to be having too much fun as I was concentrating on the presentation, but I promise it was so fun!


2. Diwali Henna Charity Event

When I saw the henna event pop up on my Facebook timeline, I was super excited because I love getting my henna done and the girls who were doing it were seriously good. The line was really long, however, but I was willing to wait as long as needed - I waited for two hours! The henna was great though and at an amazing price considering how skilled the girls were, so getting my henna done was definitely a highlight.


3. Halloween

Halloween week at Warwick was so fun, I'll never forget it. Me and my flatmates had planned two halloween outings, so for that reason I decided to do one scary look and one creative look - I love makeup and art! Our first outing was a bar crawl across Leamington Spa which then ended at Neon, all hosted by the Uni Express. It was definitely a long and tiring night, but one which was a great laugh.

Our second halloween event was the Halloween Ball at the Warwick SU Copper Rooms, which was great fun and required much less travelling! For this night, I created a Bambi look which took me forever but it was funny to see people's reactions to my different halloween looks. The events that I've attended to in the Copper Rooms have varied, some I've loved, some not so much... But the Halloween Ball had a great mix of Halloween music and contemporary music!


4. Baking

My source of procastination and go-to task when I'm bored is to bake. I have had times when I've simply been craving snacks, but other times I've just found it fun to bake with my flat mates. I first made a chocolate cake for everyone, which disappeared in ten minutes... and recently I made some amazing oreo cookies which also didn't last very long! Nonetheless, it was a fun thing to do and something different from watching Netflix all day!


5. Skool Dayz

Skool Dayz was another great event hosted by Warwick SU at the Copper Rooms! Everyone was dressed in their school attire and the music was a great mix of year 6 disco classics and current music, so it was a fantastic night that never got boring. I've found that the Warwick SU events that I don't expect to be that great turn out to be the best ones!


Amreet is one of student bloggers, regularly sharing her experiences of life as a Psychology student at Warwick. Take a look at her posts here >>

December 01, 2015

Championing Sustainability at Warwick

capture.jpgDid you know that we have enough solar panels on campus to power nearly 4,000 homes? Or that only 3.2% of the University's waste goes to landfill? These statisics are in major part thanks to the work of our sustainability team, who work with colleagues across the University to make sure our campus is as environmentally friendly as possible. We spoke to Judi Kilgallon, one of the team's sustainability champions, to find out more.

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been here about a year, which has gone very quickly. Before that? Driving tractors in Australia, working as a National Trust Ranger in Devon and introducing students to haggis and whisky in Edinburgh – I like variety!

What do you enjoy most about your role?

It’s the best job at Warwick, in my opinion! I get to meet so many people and see so much of campus – I’m barely at my desk. I love meeting people with different backgrounds and in different roles: working on projects with people who are passionate about sustainability and the environment, and opening the eyes of those who aren’t so interested to see the difference they can make.

We made this video recently when my colleague David was nominated for a Green Gown award. It explains more about all the different things happening across campus, so check it out!

Who makes up the sustainability team?

Our team is made up of five people. Joel Cardinal, Head of Energy and Sustainability, leads two Sustainability Champions (David Chapman and myself), and two Sustainability Engineers (Mark Jarvis and Andrew Thomas).

The engineers focus on the more technical aspects of sustainability, developing our carbon management plan and improving the sustainability of our buildings and services through refurbishments and better metering. The champions complement this by working to encourage positive behaviour change in our staff and students, and to support the sustainability initiatives of our community.

We work with many different groups across the University, making sure we look at sustainability issues from all angles. This includes our network of Green Champions that you can join right now if you like! This group shares ideas and help us make positive behavioural changes across campus.

All of this comes together to make Warwick more efficient with its energy, water and waste. It also saves us money which the University can invest in teaching and research.

What are some of the key projects that the team has worked on?

Let’s talk about water. Less than 1% of the world’s water is drinkable, but people rarely think about this when they turn on the tap. What do you do when you have students on campus using 43 litres per day more than the UK average? Our approach was to launch a new competition – “Cut the Flow”. We challenged different halls of residence to compete against each other to see who could save the most water in return for prizes.

This got our students thinking about how much water they didn’t need to waste. Little things like taking shorter showers and turning the tap off while brushing teeth all added up to save Warwick over 30 tonnes of carbon.

Moving from small changes to huge ones, building our new Cryfield Energy Centre was a brilliant project. When coupled with our existing Combined Heating and Power (CHP) plant, it cuts campus emissions by about 3,000 tonnes every year. If you want to know how we save the equivalent carbon emissions of over 1000 UK homes, check out this video.

Do you have any statistics about the University's energy usage that you can share?
  • We have enough solar panels on campus to power nearly 4,000 homes.
  • Only 3.2% of our waste goes to landfill – the rest is re-used, recycled or used to generate energy.
  • Electricity, gas and water cost Warwick £1,024 per hour on average.
  • There’s a 19km heating network underneath our campus.
  • Leaving your computer on every night and over the weekend wastes the same amount of energy an average runner would burn doing a half marathon every day of the week! If just 5% of University staff leave their computer on it costs £13 000 each year.

Tell us a bit about some of the projects you'll be working on over the next year.

We'll work on lots of different projects over the next year, but here are my favourites:

The Eco-Centre project
We’re working with the student society Engineers Without Borders (EWB) to put forward proposals for a new campus Eco-Centre. If approved, it would showcase sustainable, low-carbon construction (involving straw bales) and offer a unique learning experience for the staff and students involved. Once complete, it would offer a flexible space for classes, workshops, events and exhibitions. Other universities have sustainability centres, but the student-led nature of this one would really make Warwick stand out.

Environmental Sustainability Fund
We’re working with the Students’ Union on this one. Basically, any student can apply for funding if they have a project in mind that supports sustainability. It could be anything from energy-saving to green spaces to big events… I’ll be really interested to see what comes in.

Food waste
This is a massive issue in the UK and we will be focusing on this in the coming year. There are both financial and environmental costs: the average family spends about £470 a year on food they don’t actually eat (£700 if they have kids!) and wasting less food in the UK could save the equivalent emissions of taking 1 in 4 cars off the road. It’s something we really need to address. We have a great group of students known as RAWKUS who collect food left behind in halls - last year they worked with Warwick Accommodation to collect over 15 tonnes of food from halls which went to charity. We need to change this!

Check out Love Food Hate Waste for top tips. Did you know you can freeze milk and eggs?

How do you hope the University will develop in terms of sustainability over the next 50 years?

Sustainability is a global issue and everyone needs to care about it, Warwick included. This is an exciting time – we are seeing attitudes changing in our students and staff, and discussions happening at all levels throughout the University.

One area we can already see flourishing is the cutting-edge sustainability research that’s happening here. Several of our Global Research Priorities (GRPs) are focused on sustainability-related topics like energy, food, manufacturing, cities and international development. I hope Warwick itself will increasingly be used as a living laboratory where our researchers can explore and develop these ideas, such as with the Eco-Centre.

We’re also seeing a growing demand in our students for sustainability to appear on the curriculum at university. Warwick is already responding to this – see this blog by our Institute of Advanced Teaching and Learning (IATL) on education for sustainable development. I hope this continues to develop, and I’m especially keen to see more practical teaching and learning like our Green Steps programme. That way we can send our graduates out in to the world equipped to make a real difference wherever they go.

How can students and staff get more involved in sustainability at Warwick?

We need your help – creating a more sustainable campus is as much about our new Energy Centre as it is about you turning off your computer when you leave to go home. Our team can only do so much so whatever you do here at Warwick, you can make a difference – every little helps!

So what can you do? Visit our website, sign up to be a Green Champion, car share, put your rubbish in the right bin, switch off your computer – the one thing we really want you to do is simply to stop and think about your actions and the impact it might have.

So get involved and help us make Warwick a better place to study, live and work!

November 20, 2015

The Coull Quartet: our Quartet–in–Residence since 1977


The Coull Quartet has been Warwick's Quartet-in-Residence since 1977 and has a wide-ranging role that includes giving an annual series of concerts at Warwick Arts Centre, acting as ambassadors for the University and generally encouraging musical activity around the campus alongside our Music Centre. The members of the Quartet tell us more about their roles and what they believe music can contribute to the student experience in today's 50@50.

RogerRoger Coull studied the violin at the Royal Academy of Music in London and it was there that he formed the Coull Quartet in 1974. In addition to playing in the Coull Quartet Roger is an experienced conductor and teacher.

He was appointed principal conductor of the Warwickshire Symphony Orchestra in 2014, and is also a regular guest conductor of the Guernsey Symphony Orchestra, Associate Conductor of the Beauchamp Sinfonietta, conductor of the University of Warwick String Orchestra, and a regular director of the Helix Ensemble, the Academy of St Thomas, and the Crendon Chamber Orchestra, amongst others.

He was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Academy of Music for his services to professional music making. In his spare time his hobbies include cycling and photography.

PhillipPhilip Gallaway was educated in Norfolk, and studied violin at the Royal Academy of Music. Always having been drawn to the chamber music repertoire, he joined Roger Coull as a founder member of the Coull Quartet in 1974.

In addition to his quartet playing, he has appeared with many orchestras, including the London Mozart Players, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and the English String Orchestra.

He regularly plays with Orchestra da Camera and Sinfonia Viva as leader, section principal or soloist. He also enjoys his role as teacher and chamber music coach at Warwick and beyond, working with students aged from 9 to 90. Philip is also a keen gardener, and when time permits, he enjoys tending the fruit and vegetables on his allotment.

JonathanJonathan Barritt studied at the Royal Northern College of Music with Atar Arad and Mischa Geller and was awarded all the major prizes for viola. He graduated with distinction in 1983, was immediately offered a position with the English Chamber Orchestra, and has since regularly played concertos with them.

He has appeared as Guest Principal Viola with the London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Philharmonia and BBC Symphony Orchestras and has played with many chamber groups, including Capricorn, Divertimenti, Raphael, Gaudier and Primavera ensembles. Jonathan has given Quartet concerts with William Pleeth, James Galway and Kiri Ta Kanawa, as well as being a member of the Allegri String Quartet for six years, and is currently professor of viola at the Royal College of Music. Given half a chance he will escape to his garden shed where he produces beautiful turned wooden bowls.

Nick RobertsNick Roberts enjoyed a varied freelance career for 20 years before joining the Quartet in 2000. Following studies at the Royal College of Music with Amaryllis Fleming, he toured the world with the English Chamber Orchestra, working with many top soloists and conductors, before branching out into other areas of music, including west end shows, contemporary dance, new music, baroque ensembles, and chamber music.

His commercial recording has encompassed backing tracks for groups such as the Sugababes, Boyzone, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel, TV programmes including Inspector Morse, Forsyte Saga and Downton Abbey, and film soundtracks for Harry Potter, Da Vinci Code and the Mummy Returns and many others. Away from the cello he is often to be found in a dusty archive, or studying the economic and social history of music.

Tell us a bit about the history of the quartet. When did you form and with what purpose?

The Coull Quartet was formed in 1974 at the Royal Academy of Music under the guidance and mentorship of Sidney Griller, who encouraged us towards a life of playing chamber music. After a period of intensive study we continued working together as a quartet with the help of a Leverhulme scholarship. Soon after this we competed for the post as Quartet-in-Residence at the University of Warwick. We were appointed in 1977 and, alongside our international career, have been actively involved in music at Warwick ever since.

What's your role at the University? Roughly how many concerts do you perform each year?

The role of the Quartet at the University has evolved over time, but has always involved giving a concert series at Warwick Arts Centre, coaching student groups, taking orchestral sectional rehearsals and teaching individual students. The number of concerts given by the Quartet at the Arts Centre varies a little from year to year, but once included the complete Beethoven cycle in six concerts. In addition, we're involved in collaborations with various departments of the University, most recently the English and Physics departments. We also have an ambassadorial role for the University, and very recently performed in Singapore at an event that raised substantial funds for scholarships to enable Singaporean students to study at Warwick.

How do you think music can help students during their time at Warwick?

Music is an important part of many students’ lives before they arrive at Warwick, and some already play or sing to an extremely high standard. There are plenty of opportunities for students to build on what they have already achieved, as the University has a large team of expert instrumental teachers. The wide choice of ensembles is also important, as being part of these provides much-needed relaxation, and is for many students a social highlight. There is also an annual concert series given by world-class musicians at Warwick Arts Centre, and sometimes visiting artists offer workshops for the students. A thriving musical scene has become an increasingly important factor for many students when choosing their university.

What changes have you seen at the University in terms of music/ performing arts since you started playing here?

The sheer increase in size and the ever-increasing diversity of the student population has resulted in a much broader variety in the performance arts, and music, in its various guises, seems to be reaching out to more young people than ever before. The Warwick ethos is to give everyone a chance to develop their musical talents to the full, and to experience a wide variety of genres.

Are you doing anything special to mark the University’s 50th anniversary?

One of the highlights of our 50th anniversary year has been the University’s new commission for us from the composer Joe Cutler. Joe’s new quartet ‘Mind Moves Matter‘ emerged from a week-long ‘This Is Tomorrow’ residency run by the Arts Centre, during which he immersed himself in campus life and sought musical inspiration from his experiences. He was fascinated, for instance, by the contrast between the rather anonymous and grey exteriors of some of the campus buildings, and the intense activity, creativity and cutting-edge research taking place within them.

We're thrilled that he has managed to convey these images and impressions of the University in his new quartet. So far we've given two preview performances during the 50th anniversary year and we’re looking forward to giving the official premiere of the complete work during the Spring Term.

How do you hope music provision at universities might change over the next 50 years?

Warwick, as always, leads the way by being the only UK university to have a substantial and long term professional music residency working alongside its Arts Centre and student music centre. We hope that more UK universities will come to realise the benefits of facilitating the long term involvement of professional arts practitioners on campus, and that they'll become increasingly active in supporting the complex ‘ecosystem’ of music and the arts that plays such a vital, though often undervalued, role in the wider economy.

Follow the Coull Quartet on Facebook >>
Watch the Quartet on YouTube >>

November 13, 2015

"Good ingredients in equals good food out"


Graham Crump is the University's Development Chef, managing Rootes kitchen and providing support to our training and conference centres. He shares some cooking tips and a favourite recipe for you to try in this week's 50@50.

Did you always want to work in the food industry? How did you come to work at Warwick?

My interest in food evolved from helping my grandmother, who was a great cook. She had owned and operated a number of small businesses, all food related, and was also a school cook in the days when the ingredients were all fresh and seasonal.

I started in the industry at a large hotel at the age of 14, working part time, which developed into an apprenticeship and a full-time post.

Having worked for a number of hotel and restaurant groups both large chains and private groups I was looking for a new challenge and was made aware of the opening of the first conference and training centre at Warwick (Arden House, which in those days was called the Executive Post Experience Centre).

What does your role involve at Warwick?

My day-to-day role is managing and running Rootes kitchen, providing delivered food across campus and catering for the large events in Rootes. I also support the training and conference centres.

What’s your favourite thing about working at Warwick?

It has to be the progressive attitude of Warwick, along with the people and the environment.

What’s your favourite meal/ signature dish?

Too many favourite meals to recall! A memorable meal was when I was stranded in Frankfurt in the middle of January. Cold, wet and hungry, a colleague and I found a small restaurant that provided the “house special” - 10 different types of sausage, sauerkraut, mashed potato and a stein of beer! A great meal.

I'm also lucky enough in my position as Secretary of the World Association of Chefs Societies Education Committee to have eaten in some of the great restaurants and hotels of the world.

I don't have any particular signature dish although I do enjoy producing desserts, having been trained as a pastry chef in my career.

Where does your inspiration come from? Do you have any favourite chefs?

My inspiration comes from the unsung heroes of the kitchen, those chefs who don't seek the media limelight and just want to cook good food, like Paul Gayler, Adam Bennett, Luke Tipping and Paul Foster, an ex Warwick chef. However there are a few that get into media by default but have not lost their way, such as Rick Stein and Keith Floyd.

Have you had any cooking disasters?

Of course - that’s how you learn! I have had operational disasters as well though - working for a hotel group I was once asked to prepare a lunch for 60 and was all prepared when 600 turned up! Yes, they all got fed!

What cooking tips do you have for beginners?

Keep it simple, keep food areas clean and keep it fresh. Good ingredients in equals good food out.

Do you have a favourite simple recipe to share?

Here's a simple Swiss roll recipe that's easy to remember:

100g flour
100g sugar
100g egg

- Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy
- Fold in the sieved flour and spread onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet
- Bake in a preheated oven at 190c (Mark 6) for seven minutes.
- When cooked turn out onto greaseproof paper dusted with castor sugar, leave to cool slightly, then spread with jam and, using the paper, roll to form a Swiss roll.
- Add some fresh whipped cream along the top to make it that bit more special.

Queen of CampusHow do you think cooking in the UK has changed since the University opened in 1965?

Customers are well educated about food and ingredients now, produce is readily available all year round (although we have lost our way a little with seasonality), cooking gets prime time TV coverage and is now seen more as a career and a profession.

Do you have any predictions about how cooking will evolve over the next 50 years?

Food is like fashion, forever evolving and things will come and go. Molecular gastronomy is now on its way out, although elements of this will be retained and used. Core cooking skills will always come to the forefront and technology will progress, in particular for the home cook. Many keen cooks now have water baths, slow cookers, food processors etc as standard items in the home.

November 06, 2015

Krishnan Guru–Murthy visits campus for the Boar's 50th anniversary speaker series

ShanitaThis week Warwick honorary graduate Krishnan Guru-Murthy, journalist and presenter of Channel 4 News, came to campus as part of the Boar's 50th anniversary speaker series. First year Politics and International Studies student Shanita Jetha attended his Q and A session and tells us about it in today's 50@50.

Earlier this week I attended a question and answer session with Channel 4 presenter, journalist and Warwick honorary graduate Krishnan Guru-Murthy. This was organised by the Warwick Boar (Warwick's student newspaper, I highly recommend any eager writers to get involved :D ) at the Warwick Arts Centre. Last year, I attended a 'Young People's Question Time' event in Parliament which was chaired by Krishnan, so it was great to see him again and be able to ask him some questions this time! I found the Q&A both interesting and inspiring, so thought I should share some of what he said.

The event started with an introduction from Krishnan, explaining how he became a television presenter and what encouraged him to enter this field. Krishnan recieved an offer from the University of Oxford to study medicine but changed his mind, deciding to take a gap year and reapply to study Philosophy, Politics and Economics instead. During his gap year, he was given the opportunity to present on BBC2 and discovered a new passion.

Krishnan's drive allowed him to do something he finds enjoyable. Emphasising the importance of working hard, he said: "If you are interested in journalism, there are still lots of opportunities out there." A favourite quote of mine: "never give up, you never know how close you are to success." Take on any new opportunity which comes your way, and don't forget university is a time to try new things and get out of your comfort zone!

There were many questions asked, such as:

  • Who is your favourite interviewee?- "The ones you enjoy are the ones that are the most powerful"
  • Is the news too depressing?- "There are times when I certainly wouldn't let my children watch [the news]"
  • Do you think social media campaigns can be just as effective at holding politicians to account as journalists?- "It's important to remember that social media isn't necessarily a reflection of overall public opinion"
  • Do you think your interview style is controversial, if so why? - "Ultimately yes I do, as this is the best way to get answers"

This event was part of the Warwick Boar speaker series, to celebrate Warwick's 50th anniversary. There are lots of events taking place across campus, covering various academic disciplines.

For instance Warwick Business School alumnus Tobias Wagnert gave a talk on mergers and acquisitions two days ago as part of their series of guest lectures. Similarly, Rolls-Royce gave a presentation to engineering students explaining their contribution to the aviation industry.

These events are great for students to engage in debates and learn more about a particular field, possibly even one you hadn't thought about before.

Big thanks to Warwick for organising these!

Shanita is blogging about her time at Warwick on our Student Blogs page. Take a look at her posts >

November 04, 2015

How do you become a Master of Wine?

RebeccaWarwick alumna Rebecca Gibb has recently become one of just 340 people in the world to hold the title 'Master of Wine'. What exactly does this mean and how can you become one? Rebecca tells us all in today's 50@50.

Tell us a bit about your time at Warwick.
I was a History and Politics student between 1999 and 2002 and while there wasn’t much contact time each week – I think it was around seven hours – the workload was demanding and incredibly stimulating.

I still managed to find time to play in the university orchestra, be part of the athletics team, was the first female member of the university weightlifting club and contributed to the Boar from time to time.

How did you imagine the future when were you a student?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do to be honest but writing for the Boar did give me a taste for writing. I worked for a PR firm once a week while in my final year and took a job with them after graduating, and thought that might be the way I would go. I quickly realised full-time PR and I weren’t suited. I found it very hard to get excited about writing press releases about dog food!

How did reality match your expectations?
The biggest shock when you graduate is that you still go in at the bottom, earn a meager wage and have to work your way up. A degree is a must-have for many employers but you also need to have relevant work experience and that takes time.

Tell us a bit about your career journey.
I discovered my love of wine, not over a £2 bottle of Lambrini from the supermarket on campus, but on a trip to Australia over summer break. I managed to find a job in the wine industry and to cut a long story short, entered and won the UK’s young wine writer of the year in 2006 and was then given a two-week internship on a wine trade magazine in London. From there, I was offered a job with the magazine, later going on to freelance for a number of well-known wine magazines around the world.

I went on to win the inaugural Louis Roederer Young Wine Writer of the Year in 2010 and have since edited the site of the world’s largest wine search engine – a little like the Google of wine – and was then recruited by a new luxury lifestyle magazine based in Hong Kong. Where does Warwick fit in all this? I admit I did once wonder what use a history and politics degree would be but the skills that I acquired – research, processing huge amounts of information, constructing a reasoned argument, writing up to three or four essays some weeks – are essential to my role as a journalist and editor.

What is your current role? What do you like most about it? Any challenges?
I’m the deputy editor of LE PAN, a luxury fine wine and lifestyle magazine that launched in June 2015. While it’s based in Hong Kong, I work remotely from New Zealand, where I live with my Kiwi husband and young son. I’m soon to relocate back to the UK to be closer to the wine action in Europe.

What is a ‘Master of Wine? How did you become one?
The Master of Wine course is considered the highest qualification in the wine industry. There are just 340 people in the world who hold the title. It takes several years of study to be accepted on the course and then to become a Master of Wine – or MW – you have to pass five theory papers, three tasting exams and finally write a 10,000-word research paper. It’s the Everest of the wine world and brings credibility and respect.

What advice would you give to students wishing to go into journalism after graduation?
Expect to start in a lowly position and work your way up. If you’re good, you’ll rise quickly. Be humble, take a short unpaid internship, if necessary; work hard, have passion – if you don’t care about what you’re doing, you’re in the wrong job – be kind to everyone you meet, network like hell, and always be looking to update and gain new skills. Don’t forget, you’re going to be in the job market for a long time and success doesn’t come overnight.

Do you have any advice for our freshers?
Warwick students are all high achievers academically and you’ll no longer be the brainiest student like you were at school and sixth form. Don’t be stressed out by it. You are among like-minded people and you are here to expand your mind – and your social life. Remember to have fun – and try not to spend all your money in the first term!

October 30, 2015

Outreach activities in the School of Life Sciences


Dr Leanne Williams is a Senior Teaching Fellow in our School of Life Sciences. As well as teaching across a broad range of subjects, Leanne is involved in the School's outreach activities, which have reached over 2,000 children from more than 100 schools in the last year alone. She tells us what she loves about working with young people in today's 50@50.

How did you come to work at Warwick?

After graduating from Wolverhampton University in ‘96 I started my science career working at the Sanger Institute on the Human Genome Project. I stayed for quite a number of years - it was such a fun and inspirational place to work at that time. I then decided to pursue an interest in teaching and moved to Nottingham to gain a teaching qualification. I landed my very first teaching job in an inner city FE College in Nottingham. This was the hardest but most rewarding experience.

Upon this I built the foundations of my teaching philosophy and realised my passion for widening participation and second change education. After about five years I left this to pursue my own educational challenge and studied for a PhD in reproductive physiology, specifically ovarian follicle development. Following a short postdoc position I applied for a teaching fellow position here in the School of Life Sciences…and here I am.

What does your current role involve?

As a Senior Teaching Fellow I teach across a very broad range of subjects. I also get involved in teaching and learning innovation projects, such as Digichamps, Students as Producers and transitional skills development. I’m also a personal tutor; I take this role very seriously and work closely with senior tutors and student support services to ensure that we provide the very best support for our students.

I work in close association with Dr Kevin Moffat to coordinate and provide outreach and widening participation activities - check out our new webpage. We also organise and deliver the British Biology Olympiad finals every year and have worked hard with The Royal Society of Biology and Warwick conferences to secure the contract to host the 2017 International Biology Olympiad here. It’s an amazing opportunity for the School and for Warwick!

What’s your favourite thing about working at Warwick?

The thing I love most about working at Warwick is the beautiful campus. As a biologist I love Tocil Woods, the lakes and the wildlife it attracts. I commute from Loughborough every day so I aim to get here early about 7-7:30am to beat the traffic. In the summer I’ll go for a walk first thing and often see Muntjak deer - I get just as excited as I did when I was a little girl!

I also love the progressive nature of Warwick as an institution, particularly with regard to teaching and learning innovation. I’m excited to see how the WIHEA (Warwick International Higher Education Academy) influences us as practitioners and hope to get involved where I can.

Tell us a bit about outreach activities in Life Sciences at Warwick.

Over the last year we have delivered outreach sessions to over 2,000 students from over 100 schools across the country. We now offer more than 22 activities from reception year children even through to professional development sessions for teachers.

Have there been any particularly successful events this year?

I organised a biology training day for our CPE trainee teachers, on their early years PGCE. The aim was to develop their confidence in teaching biology. We then had a second day where over 40 KS1 (Year2) and 35 KS2 (Year 5&6) children came to SLS so the trainees could take the reins. We were mini beast hunting and tracking animals in the woods, pond dipping, measuring reaction rates and making oxygen with plants - we even had an interactive live animal display!

It was amazing, chaotic and tiring but the kids were just so enthusiastic and excited and the trainees were fabulous. Some of the kids had never been into a wood before to look under a log or into a pond. All you have to do is open their eyes to even the tiniest of marvels and you’ve got them completely hooked. That’s what I love about working with young people. That innate curiosity is easy to tap into and then you just have to give them the time and space to run with it. It’s the time to inspire and influence, for sure. And that’s how we’ll get more young people to study life sciences, by getting out there getting involved and giving them positive experiences and opportunities. I love my job.

October 27, 2015

What's the future of education?

What's the future of education? How could technology help us improve teaching and learning? Will education become more global in the years ahead? We asked members of IGGY to share their thoughts on this topic for this week's 50@50.

IGGY was established by the University of Warwick in 2007 to help support the brightest young minds from around the world to reach their full potential. In 2012 we launched the first global educational social network exclusively for gifted 13-18 year olds, and in the years since we’ve connected with over 13,000 young people from nearly 100 countries. IGGY is a community for young people who want to stretch their critical and creative thinking skills, broaden their communication skills, develop research techniques, and become accomplished, independent learners. Find out more >>

October 23, 2015

"It was inspiring": One volunteer's experience of the Festival of the Imagination


Our Festival of the Imagination, the centrepiece of our 50th celebrations, took place last week, transforming campus into a hub of talks, debates, cookery demonstrations and entertainment. (If you missed it you can catch up on all the action in this Storify.) None of it would have been possible without the help of hundreds of volunteers who worked across the two days, assisting visitors and speakers and making sure the sessions ran smoothly.

Greta Bendinelli was one of our volunteers and tells us about the experience in today's 50@50. A postgraduate student at Warwick, she's currently studying for an MA in Pan-Romanticisms in the School of Modern Languages.

Why did you decide to get involved with the Festival of the Imagination?

I'd never participated in something as interesting and creative as the Festival of the Imagination before and I thought it would be a great way to start the new academic year - especially before it gets too busy with deadlines and exams!

What did you do when you were volunteering during the festival?

My role was Venue Marshal and I had to prepare the venues before each event started, give out questionnaires and pass the microphone around during the talk. It was great fun, especially because it allowed me to attend several events that I would have never thought of going to and which actually turned out to be really interesting.

What was your favourite part about volunteering at the festival?

I generally tried to be as helpful as possible, both to speakers and members of the audience, and that felt really rewarding. I also enjoyed the debates that followed each event - it was nice to see many people from the audience actively engaged in the discussion.

How did you find the festival as a whole?

I thought that it was extremely interesting because it brought many different topics together, but still remained a coherent event. I went to the Shakespeare talk on Saturday and it was wonderful to see that some people on the panel were once Warwick students, as I am now. I thought, " I could be up there one day too!" It was inspiring.

Would you take part in an event like this again?

Yes, definitely! It's such a great way to engage in and discuss themes that you are either excited about or that you have never thought you would be interested in.

What do you hope to do after finishing your course at Warwick?

I hope to be able to continue my studies in Theatre, a subject that I'm really passionate about. As I mentioned, I would love to come back to an event like the Festival of the Imagination one day as a speaker.

Below are a few of the photos we took during the Festival of the Imagination. See more here >>


October 15, 2015

Celebrate our 50th anniversary at the Festival of the Imagination


Our Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Sir Nigel Thrift, shares his thoughts on the Festival of the Imagination.

Following months of anticipation, I’m delighted that our Festival of the Imagination ­- the pinnacle event of our 50th anniversary - is upon us. Over the next two days our campus will play host to a diverse programme of events and activities for the whole family to enjoy, all based around the theme of ‘Imagining the Future’.

We’ll be starting the festival by welcoming hundreds of local schoolchildren to the Arts Centre, where they’ll be taking part in interactive sessions led by some of our academics and outreach officers.

From 4pm tomorrow and throughout Saturday we’ll be running a series of thought-provoking talks, providing a platform for discussion and debate on topics ranging from healthy cooking and Shakespeare to big data and robots. I’m particularly looking forward to discussing the challenges and opportunities facing the Higher Education sector over the coming years in a session tomorrow afternoon, ‘Universities Challenged’, where I’ll be joined by Professor Abhinay Muthoo and Siobhan Benita from our Department of Economics, Alison Goddard, Editor of HE, and David Palfreyman, Bursar and Fellow of New College at the University of Oxford .

In addition to the wide range of talks on offer, there’ll be a variety of food and drink stalls, music, taster classes and entertainment to enjoy - all of which I’m sure will create a fantastic festival atmosphere.

I’d like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to organise what I know will be an unforgettable event, our volunteers, our speakers, our student performers and everyone who’ll be coming onto campus to help celebrate with us. I look forward to seeing you there.

October 09, 2015

Life as a sports news correspondent


What's it like to report from the world's biggest events and interview some of the most famous names in sport? Warwick alumnus Alex Thomas has spent the last six and a half years doing exactly that as a sports news correspondent for CNN. He tells us about his role and how his time at Warwick helped him get there in today's 50@50.

Do you have any favourite memories from your time at Warwick?

I have too many great memories to mention and most of them are too inappropriate! My favourite times were at W963 radio [now RaW] because it’s how my career started, and meeting friends who I’m still in touch with almost a quarter of a century later.

How did you imagine the future when you were a student?

I had no career plans when I arrived at Warwick. I chose to study Sociology because I thought it would be an interesting course. I hoped career inspiration would strike at Warwick and I guess it did, thanks to the radio work and writing for the Warwick Boar newspaper.

Tell us a bit about your career journey so far. How did you come to be where you are now?

alex3.jpgI didn’t get a job straight out of university but did some weekend football commentary for BBC Southern Counties radio. After that I turned down a full time job offer at Next (following some Christmas work there) and focused fully on the media work. I moved to ITN where I spent eight years in radio and TV, then four and a half years at Sky, then the last six and half years I've been at CNN.

What do you think has helped you in your career?

Being Sports Editor of W963 radio for two years and writing for the Uni newspaper helped me get excited about
journalism and the media. It helped me get some part time work at Mercia FM in Coventry so my CV didn’t look completely blank as I graduated.

What’s the best thing about your role? What have been your career highlights?

I am very lucky to have been at the world’s biggest sporting events – three football world cups, several Champions League finals, three Olympic Games, cricket and rugby world cups, open golf championships, etc… And all those major events are career highlights, although its nice to make headlines with exclusive interviews. For example, David Beckham spoke to me after the Rebecca Loos allegations and before his second season at Real Madrid. Sepp Blatter told me Placido Domingo would head up his new Ethics Committee in 2011 and Luis Figo announced his FIFA Presidential bid in an interview with me.

You’re currently covering the Rugby World Cup – what are you most enjoying about it?

CNN has a new weekly rugby show which I am hosting so it's nice to focus on that as well as our daily coverage but, as always, the thing you most look forward to is being in the stadiums and seeing the action (this isn't always possible as a TV non-rights holder). That’s when you really get a feel for the game.

Alex2Do you have any advice for current students and Warwick graduates wanting to work in broadcast journalism?

Yes, lots! But I’ll keep it simple. The media is one of the most competitive industries of all and going through the biggest change in its history due to the digital revolution.

Your individual motivation, persistence, dedication and innovation will serve you far better than any qualifications. Don’t take no for an answer, be enthusiastic and say yes to everything.

Do you have any advice for our freshers about how to make the most of their time at university?

Don’t fret about the academic side of university. Do the work when you need to but, above all, fling yourself into everything and enjoy it. All your fellow freshers are in the same boat as you. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you come from you will meet like-minded people and make loads of friends.

Photos (top to bottom):
Alex interviewing All Blacks rugby star Dan Carter
Student days at Warwick
At the Olympic Games with his daughter in 2012

October 07, 2015

Student theatre at Warwick

samIn August, a group of Warwick students performed a play they had devised at the Edinburgh Festival. Sam Thorogood, an English and Theatre finalist, tells us about the experience and how theatre outside of his course has played a huge role in his time at university.

How have you been involved in theatre outside of your course at Warwick?

I started becoming interested in theatre towards the end of secondary school and during my time at sixth form college, primarily with acting. Warwick has provided the opportunity to try out roles like producing and directing: roles that I never in a million years would have expected to fill three or four years ago.

In first year I was lucky enough to act in a variety of shows, whilst this past year I’ve focused more on producing and directing. Generally, doing shows outside the course has given me a really solid grounding in what it means to create theatre.

I’m really excited to currently be co-directing a brilliant piece of new writing called The Faithless Healer, which is going to be performed at the Arts Centre at the end of October.

How did you come to perform at the Edinburgh Festival, and how was it?

Our company, Clown Funeral, was formed from a group of likeminded student theatre-makers who thought: hey, why not try and get our work out there? So we did, with a devised show called Mr Poe’s Legendarium. We got in touch with one of the Edinburgh Fringe venues (C Venues) and took it from there.

The whole experience was great: from creating the show over a series of workshops and more intensive rehearsals to sharing it with over 500 people throughout August.

theatreHow do you hope student theatre at Warwick will develop over the next 50 years?

I hope it stays fresh, exciting and daring, and continues to attract a whole host of ambitious theatre-makers into its fold!

Do you have any advice for any freshers considering getting involved in theatre here?

Go for it! Especially if you’ve never done anything remotely theatrical before. I guarantee you won’t regret it.

What do you hope to do after graduation?

I hope I’ll continue to create theatre, whether that’s with Clown Funeral or not. I’m also really interested in community theatre projects, and I’m currently looking into career paths in that area.

Sam has been involved in the Tech Crew, Codpiece Theatre, Freshblood New Writing, and WUDS societies at Warwick.

The full list of performance societies on offer at Warwick can be found on the Students' Union website.

October 01, 2015

Simple Scoff: A Warwick community cookbook

Rebecca EarleBack in 1972, we published a cookbook full of recipes submitted by our students and staff, called Simple Scoff. To celebrate our 50th anniversary, we're releasing a new version of the book, featuring cheap, simple recipes and cooking tips from around the University.

What can we expect in the new book and what does it tell us about how our eating habits have changed over the last 40 years? Professor Rebecca Earle from our School of Comparative American Studies has been coordinating the project and tells us more about it in today's 50@50.

What was Simple Scoff and why did you decide to get involved in publishing the new version?

I didn’t know anything about it until Sarah Shalgowsky, the curator at the Mead Gallery, told me about it. It’s a small paperback with recipes contributed by Warwick students and a miscellaneous handful of other people (including, mysteriously, someone from the Oslo Music Conservatory!) It’s very chatty in tone, and is peppered with food-themed cartoons from ‘Cosgrove’, who in reality was Ian Stewart, then a lecturer in the Maths Institute. As soon as I saw it I knew we had to make a new version.

The original Simple Scoff is utterly charming: the voices of the editors come through so clearly, and the recipes are so redolent of the early 1970s. I think the dish called ‘vegetable splog’ sums things up, but there are also lots of really tasty dishes—the stuffed herrings are absolutely worth making, for instance. Anyway, I spend far too much time reading cookbooks, and I work on the history of food, so it was perhaps inevitable that sooner or later I’d try to put together a cookbook.

Tell us a bit about the new book. Who has contributed to it?

It’s a ‘community cookbook’: the recipes were contributed by people from across the university community, from undergraduates in the English Department to postgraduates in Engineering, and from adminstrative officers in the History Department to the head of Catering. Most recipes have a little introduction from the contributor that explains how the recipe was invented, or what its particular features are, etc. So each recipe is very personal. There are about 150 recipes, from breakfast dishes to puddings. There are also several complete menus, including an ‘Immune Defense Menu’ to ward off freshers' flu, and lots of little snacks and nibbles. There are lots of vegan and vegetarian recipes, too.

The recipes were submitted online along with, in many cases, photos of the dish, and sometimes even step-by-step photos showing the different stages of preparation. I was astonished at how adept students are in food photography. I guess it’s the effect of Instagram.


Do you have a favourite recipe in the book?

Hmm. I really like the onion bhajis - they just work perfectly. I’ll be making those a lot. Also the Indian carrot pudding recipe is really excellent. Also the ‘cardaffron cake’, which combines cardamom and saffron. There are so many tasty recipes...

Are there any surprising recipes in the book?

I didn’t expect as many ‘raw’ food recipes. There are clearly quite a few students equipped with spiralisers. There’s a really imaginative breakfast dish where you make a sort of spicy eggy bread but using a crumpet instead of bread. And then there’s the triple-layer brownie recipe... a layer of chocolate chip cookie dough, a layer of oreos drizzled with dulce de leche, and a layer of brownie dough, all topped off with fleur de sel. My younger son was sceptical at first (‘what is the point?’, he asked) but once he tasted them he pronounced them the best brownies he’d ever eaten.

Does the new version demonstrate how students’ eating habits have changed over time?

Student eating habits have changed enormously! For instance, there were so many recipes for curries, dhals and other Indian dishes that the new cookbook has an entire section on curries and the like. The old cookbook had, I think, one recipe for curry. Nearly half the new recipes are vegetarian or vegan. The old cookbook had a rather unenthusiastic section of vegetarianism saying it wasn’t really such a great idea but that if you absolutely didn’t want to eat meat there were a few suitable recipes on such and such pages.

The new recipes employ a much broader range of seasonings and spices, too - from fresh coriander and za’atar to Sriracha and fresh chillies. Also, the recipes not only come from all sorts of different culinary traditions—from Korea and Hungary to Paraguay and Sweden— but they have also been contributed from students from all over the world, which reflects the really diverse, international community. I think the recipes reflect the University in a very nice way.

How can we get hold of a copy?

The book will be on sale (for £4.99) in the Warwick Bookshop, and online here. All proceeds will be used to support the University’s Warwick in Africa and Warwick in India programmes. And freshers will be given a free copy in their welcome packs when they arrive next week!

Based on the differences between the old and the new book, do you have any predictions about how students’ eating habits will change over the next 50 years?

I would like to be able to say that students will be eating much more fresh, locally-grown, sustainable food, but I think that’s very unlikely. Supermarkets, where the great majority of people in the UK get their food, are part of a global food system that offers great variety and choice, but at a cost. Students, like many people, are often unsure where their food came from and don’t have a clear sense of what’s in season right here, in the Midlands, right now. This makes it hard to be an informed eater. It would be great if in 50 years students could be eating tasty food grown - let’s dream a little! - right here on the campus!

Buy your copy of Simple Scoff on the Bookstore's website >>

Simple Scoff at the Festival of the Imagination

Want to find out more about Simple Scoff and student cookery? Come along to our Festival of the Imagination on Saturday 17 October to hear from members of the University, including former BBC media correspondent and Warwick alumnus Torin Douglas, author of Simple Scoff Serena Macbeth, University Development Chef Graham Crump, Professor Rebecca Earle and Warwick Students' Union President Isaac Leigh as they take a look at student cookery then and now. Book your tickets >>


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