Inaugural lectures form a key part of the academic community at Leeds Metropolitan, and enable our staff to showcase their research to a university-wide audience.
The lectures also provide a networking opportunity for staff from across Leeds Metropolitan and from the external academic world, offering valuable scope to establish new collaborations, and to generate awareness of the value and breadth of our research.
The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Fraser Brown - Stories of Children Playing: What do they tell us about the significance of play and playwork?
Date: Thursday 27 June 2013
Venue: Rose Bowl, City Campus
Time: 17:30 for 18:00 start
This lecture will explore how we can deal with the approach that western societies have taken to the study of children and childhood of isolating the problems that individual children pose to society. It will look at the significance of play in childhood and in a child’s world and whether playwork can offer solutions; or is it wrong to ask it to provide solutions when the playwork profession seeks to enable children to find their own play in the world?
We can all, as adults, share the experience of having had a childhood and can provide insights into a child’s world but this rarely make us “experts”. In reality, each person’s childhood is a unique experience, and it is that which draws us into the complex and often emotional arenas of debate about childhood.
The Playwork profession in the UK has always exchanged their experiences of working with children and often reflected for both the children and the playworkers. In this lecture, Professor Brown will offer a selection of stories that have been submitted by playworkers for inclusion in his forthcoming book, Play and Playwork: Reflection on Practice. The stories are about children playing. They are always instructive, often funny, and sometimes sad. The stories help us explore complex issues such as risk and the unpredictable nature of play. The introduce us to a number of key theoretical concepts, such as play cues, adulteration and the significance of reference points in children’s lives. Some of the stories illustrate the therapeutic aspects of children’s play. The overall intention is to focus on the connection between theory and practices that is so often misunderstood by politicians.
Professor Fraser Brown is the first Professor of Playwork in the UK. He is also the joint course leader of the BA (Hons) Playwork degree at Leeds Metropolitan University. He has presented at conferences across the country and around the world and has produced several key texts in the field of play and playwork. He is the chair and Co-Founder of the Aid for Romanian Children Charitable Trust, and a member of the Executive Board of the Association for the Study of Play (TASP).
He has researched into a wide range of subjects, including the concepts of play value, the impact of deprivation on children’s behaviour, and the reasons for the longevity of certain adventure playgrounds. He is probably best known for his research into the therapeutic effects of playwork on a group of abandoned children in a Romanian paediatric hospital.
Fraser’s work as an academic, as both tutor and author, is characterised by his gift for making difficult concepts accessible to a wide range of audiences. This should not be seen as trivialising the subject matter, but rather following the principle that there is little point in producing work which your audience cannot understand. His most recent work makes use of real life stories of children playing, and prompted the following response from one reader: “You have a very graphic style of writing. Reading your article feels almost as if I am there, seeing it happen”.
The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Colin Webster - Poverty and insecurity: Decrying and devaluing life and work in low-pay, no-pay Britain
Date: Wednesday 5 June 2013
Venue: Rose Bowl, City Campus
Time: 17:30 for 18:00 start
Colin Webster, a Professor of Criminology here at Leeds Metropolitan, has had prime responsibility for developing and leading the undergraduate and postgraduate study of criminology in the School of Social, Psychological and Communication Sciences. He teaches Crime, Justice and Society, Contemporary Criminological Theory, Youth Justice, Understanding Race and Crime, Issues in Contemporary Criminology, and Crime Prevention.
Professor Colin Webster has recently completed as co-investigator and collaborator with colleagues at Brunel and Middlesex Universities on a Research Councils funded (£500,000 Economic and Social Research Council/Arts and Humanities Research Council AHRC) national study about young people’s attitudes towards religious faith and their implications for social cohesion. Colin has directed various research projects funded by the Home Office, Joseph Rowntree Foundation, Drug Prevention Advisory Service, Safer Cities and Local Authorities. His areas of research have included: the role of youth work in crime prevention; racist violence; ethnicity and crime; youth transitions and social exclusion; criminal and drug careers; drug treatment; and social cohesion. Poverty and insecurity: Decrying and devaluing life and work in low-pay, no-pay Britain Since the writing and publication last year of his book Poverty and insecurity: Life in lowpay, no-pay Britain, co-authored with Tracey Shildrick, Robert MacDonald and Kayleigh Garthwaite, the detrimental effects of ‘welfare to work’ changes on the conditions of the working poor and those in precarious work have been swift and unrelenting. The lecture draws on this earlier work to assess the current and likely future of ‘welfare to work’. The mantra ‘work is the best route out of poverty’, is tirelessly repeated to reassure ‘hard working families’ that they too will benefit and prosper by their own efforts. This study empirically tested whether work indeed redeems poverty over years, asking people about their lives as they cycled between work and welfare.This body of work together demonstrated three key facts about the working poor. First, a strong motivation and resilience to work exists among people faced with low-waged and insecure labour markets; secondly, intergenerational workless households rarely exist; and thirdly, that work channels people not out of - but into – poverty, when what is offered is poor work.
Professor Webster’s lecture briefly takes stock of what is happening to, and some of the consequences, of ‘welfare to work’, particularly the further rapid rise of the ‘precariat’ as a result of a deterioration of in-work and welfare benefits. Focussing on the real operation of labour markets and welfare, and the nature of the offer and quality of work and welfare, Colin asks why ‘welfare to work’ processes are perceived in such distorted and perverse ways by economists and politicians alike. What is missing from these assumptions and perceptions is an almost wilful ignorance of the subjective side of working and work, showing little appreciation of life and work at the bottom of the labour market.
The talk ends with a plea for labour market and welfare reform based on economically literate ‘welfare to work’ policies, justified within a sustainable social democracy.
The public lecture, 'The Meaning and Purpose of Leisure Studies', discussed how attitudes have changed regarding leisure studies as an academic discipline.
Professor Ruth Robbins delivered her inaugural lecture, 'Telling the Dancer from the Dance: Image, Dancer, Text', which examined the significance of instances in which an artist's work is appropriated by other artists for their own artistic production.
Professor Robbins is widely published and her research has ranged across Victorian and early twentieth-century cultures; autobiography and identity; feminism and contemporary women's fictions.
Professor Robbins explained: "In the late nineteenth century, images of dancing girls were everywhere. Edgar Degas famously produced his distorted sculpture, 'The Little Dancer'. The dancer was also to be found as an image in multiple, much more ephemeral productions - the adverts of Alfred Mucha, of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and a host of more anonymous commercial artists. In the pages of novels, plays and poems, the orientalist fantasy of Salomé and her dance of the seven veils became very popular and was recreated in fiction, poetry and a famously banned play by Oscar Wilde.
"My lecture will pursue the dancer Jane Avril (1868-1943), who danced on the stages and dance floors of Paris nightclubs and London music-halls in the 1890s. It considers the images that proliferated of her strange, contorted movements, her indifference to her audiences, and even of her life beyond the stage. Telling the dancer from the dance requires a complex unravelling of the relationships between the dancing woman, her images, and the texts that are based on her."
Understanding Men and Health: Musings on Contradictory Masculinities and Wellbeing with Steve Robertson - 23 April 2013
Venue: Rose Bowl, City Campus
Time: 17:30 for 18:00 start
‘Understanding Men and Health: Musings on Contradictory Masculinities and Wellbeing’
Concerns about “men's health”, particularly men's shorter life expectancy, first became an issue of significance in1993. In the UK, men's average life expectancy remains four years behind that of women. There are high rates of male suicide and an anxiety that mental distress often goes undetected in men until a crisis occurs. Men also have higher rates of premature death across a range of conditions. The reasons for gender differences in health practices, health experiences, and health outcomes are undoubtedly complex. 'Masculinity' is frequently presented as the villain in the story.
This lecture will explore how understanding the relationship between men and health in a more nuanced way provides greater insight into the factors that generate health damaging and health promoting practices. It aims to disrupt some of the 'common-sense' assumptions that underpin much of the current rhetoric. In particular, it raises questions about the homogeneity of men, about the pejorative view of masculinity that prevails and about the problems associated with individualistic approaches to health promotion work with men.
I begin by reflecting on my own journey into the “men's health” field. Using work from research projects completed over the last fifteen years, I will then explore some of the main contributions this work has made to the field. These contributions include recognising the dilemmas men face in relation to help-seeking, understanding the role men's health promotion initiatives can play in replicating aspects of hegemonic masculinity and highlighting emerging issues about men and emotional wellbeing. I conclude by considering what the programme of research for men's health in the next ten years could look like and what contribution I might make to this.
Professor Steve Robertson
Steve joined Leeds Metropolitan University in 2008 as Co-Director of the Centre for Men's Health. His main research centralises around social theories of gender and their application to health and illness but he has also worked on: masculinity and disability; the sociology of (male) bodies; fathers and fathering; men, emotions and mental well-being; men, sport and health; and evaluations of men's health promotion interventions.
Steve has collaborated internationally with fellow academics, policy makers and practitioners. He has acted as a consultant on gender and men’s health to the Department of Health and WHO (Europe) and is Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Men's Health.
Faraday Centre for Retail Excellence Launch Event, with Professor Cathy Barnes’ Inaugural Lecture: ‘Retail Innovation: Improving the Consumer Experience’
Professor Cathy Barnes, head of the Faraday Centre for Retail Excellence, delivered her inaugural lecture, entitled ‘Retail Innovation: Improving Customer Experience’, to celebrate its opening at the University’s Rose Bowl on May 29.
Professor Barnes’ inaugural lecture looked at how rigorous and robust consumer research can be used as a platform to create and identify opportunities for retail innovation. Following her lecture, the launch event for the Faraday Centre for Retail Excellence took place. Guest speakers included: Gerald Jennings, Land Securities’ Retail Portfolio Director, and David Wiggins, Nestle’s UK Head of Packaging.
The Inaugural Lecture of Professor Paul Blackledge, 'Beyond the Impasse of the Modern Moral Point of View: Towards an Ethical Marxism
Professor Paul Blackledge is a political theorist working within the classical Marxist tradition. He delivered his lecture titled ‘Beyond the Impasse of the Modern Moral Point of View: Towards an Ethical Marxism’ on Wednesday 13 June.
The lecture takes as its starting point Raymond Geuss’s claim that contemporary moral philosophy “has little to tell us about real politics”. According to Geuss this failure stems from the way that the Kantian colouration of most modern normative theory informs a tendency to separate discussions of what ought to be from questions of what is. It is precisely because we live in a world in which ethics has been reduced to an emotivist caricature of itself that Marx was scathing in his criticisms of moral discourse. This has often led commentators to erroneously claim that he had no interest in ethical theory. The opposite is the case. It was because Marx understood the social basis for our emotivist culture that he was able to grasp that competing moral claims would tend towards incommensurability, and thus that moralistic politics would take the form of “impotence in action”. Unfortunately, because Marx’s critics largely naturalise the modern moral point of view they tend to interpret his rejection of the moral form as evidence either of a crude mechanical materialism or of simple incoherence. In contrast to these approaches, this lecture seeks to outline an interpretation of Marxism that is able to point beyond the impasse both of modern moral philosophy and of much of modern radical theory towards an ethically grounded criticism of, and alternative to, capitalism. Blackledge argues that, understood thus, Marxism provides indispensible resources for contemporary political theory (and practice).