Students Staff

20 October 2015

Challenge takes students to heart of local government

Filed under: Latest news, Student experience — Tags: , , — Communications Office @ 11:35 am
Students at County Hall

Essex Challenge Project students at County Hall

A group of Essex politics students have seized a valuable opportunity to learn at first-hand how local government works, as part of a new joint module between the University and Essex County Council.

The module is based around a Challenge Project, called Reinvigorating Essex, to be undertaken by the students, allowing them to gain an understanding of how local government works.

The Challenge Project, which is made up of three streams, will task the students with researching questions and producing proposals on how to unlock economic growth, revitalise civic participation and improve community resilience across the county.

An Insight Day at County Hall in Chelmsford last week allowed the students to gain an overview of local government in Essex and the many services the County Council provides, as well as finding out about the challenges facing public services.

The Challenge Project will see the students ultimately producing a think-tank style report which will be used by senior leaders and commissioners at Essex County Council to help inform decision making.

Director of Employability at the University, Dave Stanbury, said: “This project offers our students the opportunity to develop valuable workplace skills while building a network of contacts.

“Visiting County Hall and having access to high level briefings brings the project to life and embeds the students’ learning in a realistic context, helping to prepare them for professional and personal success.”

Jodie Sheridan, one of the students, said: “I’ve always wanted my future job to be one in which I’m influencing people’s lives in a meaningful way. It was the main reason I decided to be a part of this project, as it represents a direct experience in local government, as well as giving me some insight into who and what makes up government. This was something I previously felt was quite mysterious.”

Cllr Kevin Bentley, Essex County Council Cabinet Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure, said: “We are delighted to be working with the University of Essex on this project. It will allow students to not only progress their studies with new insight but also perhaps forge a future career in local government.”

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20 January 2014

Research round-up

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , , — Communications Office @ 3:10 pm
Dr Greg Brooke

Dr Greg Brooke

Research into creating a “designer” protein that could be effective at treating prostate cancer was just one of many top research stories to come out of Essex in the past week.

Working with colleagues at  Imperial College London, Dr Greg Brooke, from the School of Biological Sciences, is hoping to develop the protein into a treatment that could be trialled in patients within five years.

Other studies which received national coverage included research into what influences growth and decline in church attendances by the Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER).

Quantitative sociologist Professor David Voas, based at ISER, carried out research into church attendances as part of the Church Growth Research Programme funded by the Church of England and his report was welcomed by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

New research from the Department of Government, shows that the changing fortunes of the British economy are having little impact on the popularity of the Coalition government.

Whereas evidence shows that when Labour was in office, support for the party was strongly influenced by the state of the economy – as was support for the Conservatives – all that has changed, with the current Coalition feeling none of the effects of a fairly rapid growth in economic optimism which has taken place since early 2013.



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25 November 2013

Tributes to Professor Peter Frank

Filed under: Latest news, People pages — Tags: , , , — Communications Office @ 3:39 pm
Professor Peter Frank

Professor Peter Frank

Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow is among those who have paid tribute to Professor Peter Frank, who died on Thursday 14 November.

He told viewers at the end of last Tuesday’s evening news: “He was a great friend to many of us and will be sadly missed.”

Professor Frank was regularly on Channel 4 News during the 1980s and 1990s providing expert analysis during the collapse of the Soviet Union and in its aftermath.

Channel 4 Political Correspondent Michael Crick said via Twitter that Professor Frank was a “great expert on the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. And a true gentleman.”

Many other former colleagues and students paid tribute online and via Twitter.

Journalist Mark Lloyd, who worked with Professor Frank during his time at Channel 4 News, said: “During the late 1980s and early 1990s when it seemed an impending catastrophe was unfolding in Eastern Europe he was the commentator that we reached out for.

“Newsrooms, especially before the smoking ban, tend to be rather untidy (if not downright slovenly) places. Yet Peter did not bat an eyelid as he perched next to a spilt coffee cup and overflowing ashtray to explain in simple terms what may or may not have been going on inside the Kremlin. And he put up with us fools with graciousness.

“His calm presence was a tonic. His smile was a ray of sunshine, and he always had one.

“Whenever crisis and panic threatened to overtake the headlines Peter was on hand to lend common sense and, in his interviews, gravitas, stability and immense knowledge.

“If the media is characterised as being ‘the first draft of history’, Peter took us, rather swiftly, to a better insight.”

Professor Frank’s funeral takes place on Monday 2 December at 2.45pm at Colchester Crematorium. The family have asked that there should be family flowers only but donations may be made to British Lung Foundation for research into pulmonary fibrosis, c/o Hunnaball of Colchester, York House, 41 Mersea Road, Colchester CO2 7QT.

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12 November 2013

Essex leads the way at mapping and monitoring human rights conference

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , , , , — Communications Office @ 1:12 pm
One of the panels from the event

Dr Andrew Fagan from the Human Rights Centre, Professor Todd Landman, Executive Dean in the Faculty of Social Sciences, Jonathan Cooper from Cyberalpha and Astrid Zweynert, Deputy Editor of Trust Organisation at Thomson Reuters Foundation

Key figures from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Amnesty International and Minority Rights Group International joined forces with the University of Essex and the Thomson Reuters Foundation on Friday 8 November at a conference aimed at promoting the mapping and monitoring of human rights protection around the world.

The event, which was held at the prestigious Thomson Reuters building in Canary Wharf, featured presentations and discussions on developments in the use of data, web resources and social media in the field of human rights.

Professor Todd Landman, Executive Dean for the Faculty of Social Sciences at Essex,  said: “The day gathered together leading experts in the use of systematic methods for measuring, monitoring and mapping human rights while promoting rich discussions that cut across academics, policy makers, journalists, and human rights activists. The event showed that there are many perils in this work and that all efforts should concentrate on the best collection of the most validated evidence possible.”

The conference was part of an Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded project, Extending the Human Rights Atlas. This project is led by the University of Essex in partnership with the Thomson Reuters Foundation, The Human Rights Centre at the University of Essex, The Mackman Group and the Latin American Faculty of Social Sciences – Mexico (FLACSO-Mexico).


The Human Rights Atlas website

To view the Twitter feed from the conference please go to #maphumanrights2013

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27 September 2013

Public perception of government’s trustworthiness and honesty has plummeted

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , — Communications Office @ 2:18 pm
Professor Paul Whiteley

Professor Paul Whiteley

A study by Professor Paul Whiteley of the Department of Government has shown that the percentage of people who think that the Government is honest and trustworthy has been in  decline since the high of the 1997 General Election, dropping to significant lows during the Iraq War, the election that followed, and the MP’s expenses scandal.

Just 34 per cent of people asked think that the British Government from 1997 to 2013 has, on balance, been honest and trustworthy, with 57 per cent feeling they have been dishonest.

Evaluations of the Labour leader also decreased considerably in this period, as did satisfaction with democracy.  The change of government in 2010 gave a boost to perceptions of government honesty, but the effect was temporary and rapidly dissipated.

Setting out to ascertain why voters lose trust in governments, Professor Whiteley tested three broad factors which he believes drives trust; policy outcomes, policy processes and specific events, like the expenses scandal.

The data was initially collected via Gallup telephone survey, which consisted of monthly surveys from 1997 to 2003 and questioned approximately 1,000 respondents. Internet survey data from YouGov was used from 2004 to the present and, again, consisted of monthly surveys of approximately 1,000 respondents.

Professor Whiteley concludes that all policy related issues influence government honesty, meaning that performance really matters for a government’s credibility. The processes matter too, in that if people think that they are being treated fairly and that those in charge are competent, this also boosts government credibility. Political leadership is another important factor since people appear to use trust in the current Prime Minister as a heuristic for deciding whether or not to trust the Government as a whole.

Professor Whiteley believes that the study’s findings demonstrate important implications for the future, as further analysis shows that perceptions of government honesty play an important role in explaining voting intentions. Speaking of the future he said, “If trust in government is low at the time of the next election, the Conservatives will lose votes and Labour will gain them. However, if David Cameron is more popular than Ed Milliband, this will offset a lack of trust in his government. At the moment the two are equal in the popularity stakes. Interestingly, trust in government appears not to influence voting intentions for the Liberal Democrats.”

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24 September 2013

Prestigious peace and conflict conference held at Essex

Filed under: Latest news, Research impact — Tags: , , , — Communications Office @ 11:11 am

The Conflict Research Society chose to hold its 50th Anniversary Conference at our Colchester Campus.

The interdisciplinary conference was opened by Professor Todd Landman, Executive Dean of our Faculty of Social Sciences, who has just published a new book called Human Rights and Democracy: The Precarious Triumph of Ideals.

High profile speakers included Professor Steven Pinker, from the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, who focused on human nature and the decline of war.

The conference also saw Professor Kristian Gleditsch from the Department of Government at Essex launch his new book Inequality, Grievances and Civil War.


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