Britain’s top economists and economic historians will meet at the British Academy in London on Tuesday to discuss the Treasury’s reactions to the revolutionary ideas of economist John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946).
The event, which will be attended by Permanent Secretary of the Treasury Gus O’Donnell, marks the launch of the next volume of the Academy’s Records of Social and Economic History series, Keynes and his Critics: Treasury Responses to the Keynesian Revolution, 1925-1946. The text comprises of a selection from the Treasury’s files edited by Professor George Peden of the University of Stirling.
Professor Peden said: “Many of the documents in the volume are of contemporary as well as of historical interest. For example, those related to the return of the gold standard illustrate the problems of a fixed exchange rate when the rate chosen does not reflect economic fundamentals and may serve as a warning in debates on the Euro.”
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Impact of Urbanisation on the Historical Plains of Sri Lanka
Date released: Thursday 16 December 2004
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Anuradhapura is one of Asia’s major archaeological and pilgrimage centres. The Sri Lankan capital for 1500 years until its abandonment at the end of the first millennium AD, its rulers constricted lavish monasteries and lakes and attracted merchants involved in lucrative Indian Ocean trade. Although excavations have traced its growth from an Iron Age village to a medieval city, we know nothing of the role played by communities in the surrounding northern plain of Sri Lanka.
A project by the Universities of Stirling, Bradford and Bristol seeks to identify pre-urban and urban networks within the plain, and assess the impact of urbanisation on non-urban communities as access to resources and imports was eroded as the city emerged and expanded. The five-year project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB), with field work beginning in early 2005.
Professor Ian Simpson, of the University of Stirling’s School of Biological and Environmental Sciences, said:
“Stirling’s contribution is in geoarchaeology, considering the soils-based cultural record within the Anuradhapura hinterland and focusing on defining the role of early irrigated agriculture. This project further reinforces Stirling’s international reputation in geoarchaeology and environmental history."
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New System to Help Police Catch Criminals
Date released: Monday 20 December 2004
Psychologists at the University of Stirling have received funding of nearly a quarter of a million pounds to further develop a revolutionary computerised photofit system for the police.
Unlike the current police systems, EvoFIT focuses on people’s tendency to recognise whole faces and takes an evolutionary approach to generating images of suspects. Rather than picking from a range of eyes, noses and mouths, witnesses are shown an array of 120 different faces for a given sex and race. The witness is asked to select the twelve images that most closely resemble the perpetrator. These twelve are used to generate 120 more images and the witness is asked to repeat the task. This process of evolving new faces is continued until a close match is found.
Dr Charlie Frowd and Dr Peter Hancock, will use the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council‘s £225,000 grant to make their system more user friendly and improve its ability to produce realistic images.
Dr Hancock said: “We want to introduce useful variables into the system such as age and obesity. This would allow a witness to request that an image, for example, be made to look older, something which requires considerable artistic skill with the current photofit systems. We are also looking at ways to make the system more responsive to requests by a witness. For example, if they remember bushy eyebrows, we want to be able to programme the system to generate only images with this feature.”
Drs Frowd and Hancock are also exploring how to help witnesses remember relevant details.
Dr Frowd said: “Current police interviewing techniques concentrate on facial features, for example describing the nose, which gets in the way of remembering what the whole face looks like. We aim to develop interviewing methods that better match the holistic nature of EvoFIT and predict that a combination of these approaches should enable witnesses, even those with a limited recall whose descriptions are sketchy, to construct useful images to enable the police to catch the culprit.”
EvoFIT has emerged from a collaboration between Stirling University and ABM, a worldwide supplier of solutions for fighting crime.
ABM director, Dr Leslie Bowie said: “ABM and Stirling University have worked together on Facial Recognition for more than three years and today’s announcement means that Police Forces will continue to solve crime with the help of Science and Technology. The first commercial version of EvoFIT is nearly ready for police use and this grant will substantially improve the product, which is already outperforming current systems.”
Sustaining Livelihoods and Protecting Biodiversity in Mexico
Date released: Monday 20 December 2004
A collaborative project between a Scottish and a Mexican University is helping sustain the livelihood of indigenous communities in central Mexico while protecting an endangered fish species unique to the region’s lakes.
Professor Lindsay Ross of the University of Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture and Dr Carlos Martínez-Palacios of the Universidad Michoacana de San Nicolás de Hidalgo are using new aquaculture technology to save a species of the Mexican Silverside. Stocks of the fish have declined rapidly due to overexploitation, changes in land use and poor environmental management. The species is a symbol of the area and has for centuries sustained large numbers of fisher families, particularly from the P’urhepecha community.
“Families who previously depended upon this resource as a source of income and of high quality protein, are suffering as a result of its decline and the species itself is now under severe pressure especially given its high cash value,” said Professor Ross. “Some other species in the flock are under similar strain and the current, unconfirmed view, is that there have probably been extinctions in the last 20 of 30 years. The introduction of new technology will allow fishing communities to continue to exploit the species while reducing pressures on the natural stocks.”
The £174,000 project, which began in July, is supported by the UK Government Department of Food and Rural Agriculture (DEFRA) through the Darwin Initiative. Its goals are to promote a network of fish nurseries and ponds, which will produce fish for sale or for re-stocking, as well as increasing training and awareness and helping to develop biodiversity strategy alongside aquaculture development.
Over the last three years Professor Ross and Dr Martínez-Palcios have been working with indigenous fisher families in Ichupio on Lake Patzcuaro where the species is fished and traded. To prepare the way for introducing aquaculture they have constructed family ponds which will act as a demonstration site and have provided a series of short courses, the first of which introduced the concept of managing young fish from the egg to later stages. They have also provided initial training in managing ponds, showing fishing communities how to fertilise and monitor water conditions.
Professor Ross said: “We believe that the training provided and facilities created will make a real difference to the future of the species and the communities dependent on it by eliminating poverty, developing more sustainable livelihoods and maintaining biodiversity.”
University of Stirling MBA student Neil McLean will launch a voluntary organisation in January aimed at empowering people to stop smoking and sustain a tobacco free life - in time to support those New Year resolutions!
The not-for-profit organisation aims to maximise opportunities for smokers of all socio-economic groups to conquer their addiction and sustain a smoke-free life. Special workshops for communities and businesses will be held in Forth Valley in 2005.
Stirling Council has already signed up to the programme, allowing staff paid time off to attend the course as well as contributing 50 percent of each employee's course fees. The eight-week programme will cost each participant £35. Staff will also be given the opportunity to channel the money they would have spent on cigarettes into a saving scheme - based on one packet of 20 per day, you could save over £1,600 a year.
Neil hopes the Council’s commitment will inspire other employers to help their smokers give up. He said: “Stopping smoking is a personal decision. However, research has shown that only one person in 50 succeeds in stopping on their own, whereas group sessions, fronted by healthcare experts, similar to this programme which is run by qualified smoking cessation councillors, can achieve 10-15 times more success.”
As a former heavy smoker, Neil knows how hard it is to stop: “When I was a smoker, I believed I would always want to smoke, even if I managed to stop. I was concerned that I would constantly feel like I was depriving myself of something enjoyable. Many former smokers, who had stopped many years previously, told me of their cravings and desires 30 and 40 years after they quit. When I finally exposed myself to the appropriate educational material and really engaged with the process of stopping it just wasn’t like that - I felt free! From my experience I can assure people that stopping smoking in the correct manner can be completely liberating. It may even motivate you to embark on other positive developments in your life. I have spoken to many people who feel that quitting smoking was their greatest achievement. With Quit & Save, I want to create a non-medical environment where people all over Scotland can be liberated from their all-too unconscious addiction.”
Neil’s business has been supported by SUREstart student enterprise, run by Stirling University Research & Enterprise (SURE). SUREstart is now moving into its third year and has provided a hands-on experience of running a business to 10 student businesses in the SUREstart student business incubator, located at Stirling University Innovation Park.
For further information and to register for the Quit & Save programme contact Neil on Tel: (01786) 458057 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
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