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January 14, 2011

Warwick Week – Russia in 2011, philosophy and fairness, and a new training centre

A special Jewish conference was held here over Christmas

Limmud is an innovative educational organisation in the British-Jewish community. Its flagship event is a six day residential Conference, which for the 4th year running was held at the University. The event attracts a number of high profile presenters each year, who present a wide variety of sessions on a range of topics of Jewish interest. In order to allow participants to observe Shabbat (the Sabbath), when work is forbidden, a temporary linked fence (an Eruv), a ceremonial boundary which allows those inside the Eruv to enjoy Shabbat within the laws of their religion, encircled Rootes and the accommodation blocks. Videos of seminars on topics such as 'A History of the Jewish World in 30 Objects' and 'Israel and the Media: An Insiders Account' are now viewable online.

Read more about the Limmud Conference >>

The Arts Centre has been given £1 million

More than £1 million of lottery money has been given to Warwick Arts Centre. The grant, from Arts Council England, is part of a programme designed to make arts organisations more resilient and help them develop long term business plans. In total Warwick Arts Centre, based at the Warwick University campus in Coventry, has been given £1,365,000.

The Arts Centre’s Director, Alan Rivett, said:

We were pleased to be invited to bid for this award. Lottery funding will help steer the organisation towards a healthy future.

Read more in the Coventry Telegraph >>

Russia in 2010: One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

Where will Russia go in 2011? Professor Mark Harrison, Department of Economics, looks back at four stories from 2010 suggesting that for every step Russia takes towards democracy and away from Soviet totalitarianism, the absence of the rule of law takes it two steps back again.

In his blog, Prof Harrison said:

These four stories suggest where Russia is moving: towards a state with increased discretionary power to intervene as it chooses to control prices and direct resources, subsidize favoured interests, control deviance, and lock up or kill inconvenient people. By the standards of Russia’s Soviet past it is definitely one step forward. This one step is hugely important. Russia is no longer a totalitarian state of mass mobilization and thought police. But, compared with the “normal” society that Russians deserve, and that Russia's friends wish for, it is two steps back again.

Read more in Prof Mark Harrison's blog >>

Philosophy is vital in understanding fairness

Dr Angie Hobbs, the UK’s first Senior Fellow in the Understanding of Philosophy, argues that knowledge of her subject is vital to understanding the debate around the fairness of government policies.

Dr Hobbs said:

In the history of philosophy there’s a wide range of possible answers to a lot of the big questions about how we should live as individuals and as societies, and the fewer students who study philosophy, the fewer people who are going to be out there who know about this range of possible answers and rework and adapt them for current problems and future problems. So without philosophy students we are going to be reducing the number of tools in our toolbox to tackle questions like ‘What’s money for?’, ‘What is fairness?’, ‘How does fairness relate to equality?’

Watch Dr Angie Hobb's on The Guardian's website >>

New £10 million Warwick Centre in High Value, Low Environmental Impact Manufacturing

WMG at the University of Warwick has been awarded one of five new Industrial Doctorate Centres announced today by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). EPSRC are funding five new Industrial Doctorate Centres to address fundamental engineering challenges in advanced manufacturing engineering. The WMG centre will focus on High Value, Low Environmental Impact Manufacturing. The new Centres will train Engineering Doctorate (EngD) students. These four-year postgraduate awards are intended for the UK’s leading researchers pursuing a career in industry. It provides postgraduate engineers with an intensive, broad-based research programme incorporating a taught component relevant to the needs of, and undertaken in partnership with, industry. WMG Director Professor Lord Kumar Bhattacharyya  said :

Our vision is to produce a new generation of manufacturing leaders with the high-level know-how and research experience essential to compete in a global manufacturing environment defined by high impact and low carbon. They will be adept at working in multidisciplinary teams and exceptionally well networked internationally, and with demonstrable entrepreneurial flair. The WMG based Centre will address industrially challenging issues that enable companies to develop and implement effective low-environmental impact technology and policies that also benefit the ‘bottom line’.

Read more in the press release >>


October 22, 2010

Warwick Week – Comprehensive Spending Review

This week, the whole country has been discussing the Comprehensive Spending Review. There are still significant unanswerable questions regarding how it will change the nature of the UK economy but Warwick academics have been having their say…

Vice-Chancellor Prof Nigel Thrift on Higher Education

Now that the Government has announced the outcome of its Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) we are beginning to get some indication of the level of the cut to public funding of higher education in England.

While we have yet to see the detail the CSR does appear to include a significant cut in University funding as was suggested in a wide range of news media over the last few weeks.

Read the full comment on the University website >>

Angie Hobbs on Fairness

The Comprehensive Spending Review announcements have prompted many discussions on the concept of “fairness”.  Are the spending cuts fair? Is fairness too expensive? In a feature on Radio 4’s Today programme, Dr Angie Hobbs explains the philosophy of fairness.

Listen again on the BBC Radio 4 Today website >>
You can also read an interview with Angie Hobbs on The Knowledge Centre >>

Lord Robert Skidelsky on Growth Prospects

Lord Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor in Politics and International Studies said Mr Osborne's cuts would "directly worsen immediate growth prospects". Writing in the New Statesman, Lord Skidelsky said:

What are the prospects for Osborne's cuts? They will directly worsen immediate growth prospects, as the Office for Budget Responsibility concedes, and they will not in themselves bring about offsetting reductions in long-term interest rates.

For this, we need quantitative easing (printing money) and it is no secret that this is what the Chancellor relies on to vindicate his policy.

Yet one would be wrong to think this is a cure-all ... the injection of £200 billion of new money in 2009 failed to revive lending and borrowing on the scale needed for robust recovery, and it is not clear why the Chancellor and the governor of the Bank of England expect another monetary injection to do any better now.

Lord Skidelsky’s comments were featured as the lead essay in this week’s issue of New Statesman >>

Wyn Grant on Social Security

In an article on bloomberg.com, Prof Wyn Grant commented on the social-security spending cuts:

Local agents who administer benefits are subject to local political pressures… Even if the local administrators do not know the people whose cases they administer, there may well be a local culture that is sympathetic to, for example, people who have been unemployed for long periods of time.’’

Read the full article on Bloomberg.com >>l

Prof Mark Harrison on the Welfare State

Prof Mark Harrison, Department of Economics was on BBC Coventry and Warwickshire on Thursday morning looking at the future of the Welfare State – have George Osborne’s cuts made it a thing of the past?

Listen to the interview here on BBC iPlayer (0:05.30) >>

Prof Mark Harrison, also looks at the principles and the future of the welfare state after George Osborne’s cuts on his blog:

Panic is in the air, especially in the British public sector. Yesterday's comprehensive spending review prompted BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire to ask me this morning if this marks the end of Britain’s welfare state.

There will be a major contraction, for sure. At the same time, it is far from the end of welfarism as we have known it since the late 1940s. George Osborne’s cuts, if and when they take effect, will bring the government’s share of GDP back down just below 40 percent – that is, where it was in the early 2000s. At that time, less than a decade ago, the welfare state was still alive and well.

What will have changed? Most likely tomorrow's welfare state will be smaller than it is now. And the principles on which it is based are evolving. But given the scale of cutbacks, the evolution of the principles is surprisingly slow.

Read the full blog post here >>

An Academic Analysis

The morning after the Comprehensive Spending Review announcements, Prof Abhinay Muthoo from the Department of Economics, Prof Wyn Grant from the Department of Politics and International Studies, and David Elmes, Director of the Global Energy MBA at Warwick Business School, got together to talk through some of the details in the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review .

Watch the video here >>


October 15, 2010

Warwick Week – Fairness, The Browne Review, Government Spending and 100 Objects

Warwick in the News

What is Fairness?
What is a fair world? What does it mean to be fair? This week, Radio 4 have been exploring the topic of “fairness” and on Monday, Dr Angie Hobbs, Senior Fellow in the Public Understanding of Philosophy considered the concept of “fairness” and what it means.

It rests on the assumption that each person matters in themselves and is more than a number. To put it formally, persons are separate bearers of human dignity and rights so any distributions, transactions or cuts that disregard the dignity and rights of the individual will therefore, not be fair.

Listen again to Dr Angie Hobbs >> (1:14.09)

Vice-Chancellor comments on the Browne Review
Tuesday saw the publication of Lord Browne’s review on university funding in England. The review recommends a significant increase in the cap on the undergraduate student fees and changes to the pattern of interest rate charges on student loans. Vice-Chancellor Professor Nigel Thrift commented:

...there is much yet that has to be resolved before we can be sure of the full implications of this review for Warwick or any other English university. The report will be debated and considered by both government and parliament before any of its recommendations are adopted, amended or even set aside. We also await the outcome of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR)  which will have a significant impact on the consequences of the Browne review if, as is expected, it includes a significant cut to University funding.

Read the Vice-Chancellor's comments in full >>

Government spending and GDP
Prof Lord Robert Skidelsky, Emeritus Professor of Political Economy (Department of Economics) was on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday discussing government spending and GDP with Jonathan Freedland. The programme compared the present public spending review with the 'Geddes Axe' of 1921-22.
Listen again >>

Mario Vargas Llosa wins Nobel Prize for Literature
Honorary Graduate Mario Vargas Llosa has been awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. The award was given "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat."
Find out more about Mario Vargas >>

A History of the World in 100 Objects
Vice-Chancellor Prof Nigel Thrift appeared on Radio 4’s “History of the World in 100 Objects” on Tuesday discussing the marine chronometer that accompanied Darwin to South America and its role in measuring time and geography.
Listen again >>
(07:27)

Linda Norgrove
The University was saddened to hear the news reports last weekend on the death of WBS student Linda Norgrove. She had almost completed her WBS Distance Learning MBA, and had been serving as an aid worker in Afghanistan. She was taken as a hostage in September and was killed in the course of a rescue attempt on Friday 8 October.
Read more about Linda Norgrove >>

Comment

Higher Education: Who Else Should Pay? Mark Harrison

The Browne report, Securing a sustainable future for higher education in England, says higher education should be paid for by those that benefit from it: our graduates. It also says they should pay later, in easy instalments, and only when they can clearly afford it, with all risk transferred to the government and universities.

It looks to me like a no-brainer ... Yet lots of people are showing signs of moral outrage.
A question the critics seldom address is: Who else should pay for my degree?
The taxpayer is usually implied. But here's the problem: tax-financed higher education involves a lot of poor-to-rich redistribution.

Read more on Professor Mark Harrison’s Blog >>


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