All entries for Friday 03 September 2010

September 03, 2010

Warwick Week – IGGY, Learning Grid, Soccer in China, Blair's Memoirs

Warwick in the News

IGGY in Botswana
Last  week, some of the world’s brightest young people took part in the IGGY U Summer School in Botswana thanks to a special partnership between the Botswana Ministry of Education and Skills Development (Education Hub) and the International Gateway for Gifted Youth (IGGY). Young people from Botswana, South Africa, Brunei, Ghana, Tanzania, and the UK will enjoy special courses in Mathematics, Creative Writing, Chemistry, Physics, Marketing and Entrepreneurship.
Read more on the THE website >>

Learning Landscapes
Warwick’s Learning Grid has been held up as shining example of creativity in campus design in a Guardian article on the revolution in University architecture and design.

…the Learning Grid is, according to its manager, Rachel Edwards, "a technology-rich, flexible and informal learning environment, open 24/7 with a capacity for 300 people". Essentially, this is a fusion of a library and a common room. It allows disciplines to cross. It encourages students to help one another as well as themselves. It is generating fresh lines of research. "It's been breaking down the gap between students and teachers," says Neary, "with students becoming part of the academic project rather than consumers of dispensed knowledge."”

Read the full article on the Guardian website >>

Soccer kits in China

Research by leading football brand expert Sue Bridgewater shows the Chinese passion for sportswear is a major income driver for the world’s leading football clubs. Sue Bridgewater is Associate Professor of Marketing and Strategy at Warwick Business School and also runs the University’s Centre for Management in Sport.
Read more on the China Daily website >>


Two New US Higher Education Roles for University of Warwick’s Vice-Chancellor
Last week we told you about Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift's appointment as a Marshall Aid Commemoration Commission Commissioner by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). He has also now been asked to join the American Council on Education’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Global engagement which will look at US Universities response to the increasingly globalised landscape of higher education.
Find out more >>

West Midlands Chemistry Technician of the Year
Mass Spectrometry Technician Philip Aston has made the shortlist for the prestigious title of West Midlands Chemistry Technician of the Year. He is one of nine hopefuls hoping to take home the award, which will be handed out at a special ceremony on September 15.
Read the Press Release >>

Portfolios for the Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellors 2010-2011
Earlier in the year, the posts of Deputy Vice-Chancellor and the Pro Vice-Chancellors were announced. Each year, the roles of these post-holders is amended to reflect the strategic priorities of the University and the portfolios for those posts have now been announced. 
Find out more >>


Unshaken, nor stirred - Associate Prof Steven Kettell from Politics and International Studies comments on the publication of Blair's Memoirs

The publication of Tony Blair's memoirs comes at an opportune moment in British politics. With the New Labour years now receding into the past, and with the new Coalition government seeking to remould the political and economic landscape in its own image, questions about the Labour legacy and its place in the pantheon of British government, are likely to become increasingly germane. The larger part of this debate will, naturally, turn on the Premiership of Tony Blair; the political sun around which the Labour project itself revolved. And so it is that Blair's own contribution has now arrived.

Coming from a Prime Minister who, by the end, had become almost consumed by his desire for a legacy, the publication of his own view of events should be seen as nothing less than a directly personal attempt to stake the claim for his place in history. And history, at least that of the recent variety, is the stuff of which this book is made. Ten years in office offers nothing if not an opportunity to reflect, and Blair's reflections are wide-ranging in scope: from Princess Diana to devolution, from public sector reform to peace in Northern Ireland, from the politics of world leadership to the minutiae of life as Britain's most senior politician.

But two issues, above all else, loom large across the pages: Blair's spiked relationship with his Chancellor, and forlorn successor, Gordon Brown, and his decision to partake in the American-led invasion of Iraq. The foremost of these gives Blair the chance to even a score that one senses has been long in gestation. In an adroitly mustered kick-and-tell, Blair makes clear that it was on his talents and vision, rather than those commanded by Brown, that the electoral success of New Labour was built. Brown, so we are told, was simply ill-equipped and ill-suited to deal with the challenges of the modern Premiership, with Blair's faint praise for his intellectual abilities serving merely as the prelude to a more damning indictment of his poor leadership, strange behaviour and lack of emotional intelligence.

If Blair's antipathy towards Brown is hardly surprising, however, then nor is the line taken in defence of the Iraq war. Faced with allegations of deceit over its reasons, and charged with incompetence over its aftermath, Blair's position retains an uncompromising posture. The threat from Iraq, we are told, remained real (even if this has now been downgraded to a question of intent), as does the civilisational necessity of winning the broader war on terror.

But this raises the most obvious and paradoxical point of the Blair memoirs; namely, that the more they assert the less they convince. On Brown, Blair's claims to political omniscience concerning a calamity-in-waiting are tainted by his public support (albeit belated) for the succession, while on Iraq, Blair's claim to have been unaware of the problems that would be faced in the postwar arena, coming in light of numerous warnings made ahead of the invasion, does more to raise questions about his political judgement than to expunge culpability from the record.

Scholarly dissection of New Labour is set to enjoy a leisurely ebb-and-flow, as measurable comparisons emerge in light of the Coalition's record in office, but for Blair, now three years departed from office, the public die has already been cast. Those for whom the New Labour years are regarded as a wasted opportunity to break the Thatcher mould, and for whom the rottenness of the last Parliament was, to no little degree, a reflection of a self-serving political class cultivated and encouraged by the Blair administrations, are likely to remain unconvinced by repeated asseverations of good intention. If this hand was too frequently played by Blair during his time at the high seat of power, then its ability to carry any weight of sincerity now that he finds himself far from it is even more diminished. Even the donation of Blair's not-inconsiderable royalties to the Royal British Legion has failed to silence his critics; and the cynically-minded may allude (not too-ungraciously, perhaps), that the memoirs will, in any case, do little to dent his status in the cash-rich world of international media celebrity. To that extent, at least until the revisionists take their turn, Blair's legacy in the minds of many looks set to remain a vainglorious and unhappy one. His memoirs will do little to change it.

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