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News archive for April 2010

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News Archive

April 2010


Ramzy Baroud delivers the 2010 Hetherington Memorial Lecture

Stirling’s Highland campus delivers a worldwide network of midwives

Stirling golfers Spraggs and MacDonald in sparkling form

University launches national Exercise qualification supporting people with dementia

Graham family strengthens links with University

University launches new Postgraduate Fair

Stirling Management School joins forces with Foreign Trade University, Vietnam

Loughborough Professor delivers lecture tackling behavioural aspects of physical activity

Curtis Cup hopeful Kelsey MacDonald on course thanks to her winning mentality

Are the Highlands heading for the deep freeze?

Sculpture’s Place in the University Art Collection: Lecture

Sculpture gifted to the University of Stirling

Stirling hill race tests skill and courage

Leading economist's election blog

Talking Mats provide an aid to communication for people with dementia


Please note: lecture postponed due to air travel disruption

Ramzy Baroud delivers the 2010 Hetherington Memorial Lecture

Date released: Wednesday 7 April 2010

Ramzy Baroud will deliver the 2010 Hetherington LectureRamzy Baroud (pictured), Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Chronicle, will deliver the University of Stirling’s 2010 Hetherington Memorial Lecture entitled: ‘Gaza’s Untold Story: Journalism in the Middle East Conflict’. The lecture, which will take place in the A3 Lecture Theatre, Cottrell Building at 6pm on Monday 19 April, is free and open to all.

A Palestinian-American journalist, author and former Al-Jazeera producer, Ramzy has been published in hundreds of newspapers worldwide, including The Washington Post, The Japan Times, Al-Ahram Weekly, Asia Times and nearly every English language publication throughout the Middle East. He has also taken part in many television and radio programmes, including CNN International, BBC, ABC Australia and Al-Jazeera.

He received international recognition with his 2002 publication 'Searching Jenin: Eyewitness Accounts of the Israelo Invasion'. The publication in 2006 of ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle’, won the praise of scholars worldwide. His most recently published book ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’ tells of his family’s life from the 1940s until the present time and is representative of the lives of millions of Palestinians in the Diaspora.

Professor Neil Blain, Head of the University’s Department of Film, Media and Journalism, said: “Ramzy Baroud is a fascinating man with an extraordinary story to tell. Having been born and raised in a Gaza refugee camp, he can speak with first-hand experience of the daily trials faced by Palestinians, and also – as an established journalist and editor – of the moral dilemmas faced by the media in their coverage of the Middle East”.

This view is shared by Noam Chomsky, US activist and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who said: "Ramzy Baroud's sensitive, thoughtful, searching writing penetrates to the core of moral dilemmas that their intended audiences evade at their peril.

“Few are spared his perceptive eye, and only the morally callous will fail to respond to his pleas to look into the mirror honestly, to question comforting beliefs that protect us from facing our elementary responsibilities and to act to remedy the terrible misery and injustice that he exposes to our view, as we surely can."

Notes to Editors:

The Hetherington Memorial Lecture, organised by the Stirling Media Research Institute and supported by the Scott Trust, is an annual event. It is named after the late Alastair Hetherington, a former editor of the ‘Guardian’ and Controller of BBC Scotland, who was the first Research Professor of Media Studies at the University of Stirling.

Previous lectures have been given by Joan Bakewell, Jon Snow, Peter Preston, Alan Rusbridger, Sheena McDonald, Jonathan Freedland, Roy Greenslade, Elinor Goodman, Trevor Phillips and John Lloyd.

Stirling’s Highland campus delivers a worldwide network of midwivesThese midwifery students will graduate in November

Date released: Thursday 8 April, 2010

March 5 2010 was the Final Study Day of the last cohort  to undertake the ‘old’ (1995-2008) 18 month Midwifery programme for Registered Nurses on the University of Stirling’s Highland campus. Seven students from the September 2008 intake will complete the programme and graduate in November 2010 from the University of Stirling with a BSc Midwifery.

Over many decades, students have gone from the Highland Campus (formerly the College of Nursing  & Midwifery) equipped to practise as Registered Midwives in NHS Highland, across the UK and in Europe – including Holland and Germany – and even further afield in Africa , Australia and New Zealand.

Since 1996 the students have been supported by experienced midwives throughout the Highland region and a small team of three academic staff on Highland campus (Judith Maclennan, Irene Murray and Wendy Jessiman).  Judith Maclennan retired in 2007 and Shirley Matheson, an experienced community midwife, joined the team as a secondee.

Wendy Jessiman and Irene Murray are Joint Programme Leaders and, speaking on behalf of both, Wendy said:  “We would like to take this opportunity to salute all of our midwifery students who, in addition to their Registered Nurse qualification, have achieved their dream of becoming midwives and embarking on the noblest of professions.

“We would also like to acknowledge the sterling work done by all those midwives who have supported and mentored our students through the highs and lows of the educational process, over the past few decades.”

Background Notes:

The 18 month Midwifery Programme has now been replaced by a new Integrated Programme, which offers the shortened route on both Highland and Stirling campus. For more details on the Programme, click on:

Picture caption: front: Gail Blackmore, Carrie Dawson and Christine Gracie. back: Lynn Forbes, Laura Scotson, Johanna Campbell and Alison Graham.

For more information, please contact Wendy Jessiman:

Stirling golfers Spraggs and MacDonald in sparkling form

Date released: Friday 9 April 2010

Patrick Spraggs has won the 2010 R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament, after a final round of 70 on St Andrews’ Castle Course left him five clear of the field.

The 19-year-old University of Stirling student will now take his place on the European Team to face the USA for the Palmer Cup, the student international match which, this year, will be held at Royal Portrush in Northern Ireland. In doing so, he follows in the illustrious footsteps of former Stirling golf scholars Gordon Yates, Scott Borrowman and Richie Ramsay.

ISSP golfer Patrick SpraggsPatrick was tied for the lead going into the final round having shot 71 and 68 around the Eden Course the previous day. He accelerated with birdies on four and five before eagling the par-5, 555-yard 15th courtesy of a four-iron struck to within two feet, going on to complete an emphatic victory.

“This is the biggest university event I’ve played in by far,” said Patrick, who is in his first year as a Foundation Scholar. “I said to the guys on the first tee, “This is going to be so hard” but I think we got the best of the conditions and it all came together for me. Opportunities like playing in the Palmer Cup don’t come along every day, so I’m really looking forward to it."

Spraggs’ round of 70, however, was only the second-best round of the day. That honour went to fellow University of Stirling golf scholar Kelsey MacDonald who posted a remarkable three-under-par 68 to finish on a total of 214, winning the women’s competition and tying for second place overall.

In what was undoubtedly the round of the tournament, the 19-year-old made five birdies, two going out and three coming back, one of them coming at the 312-yard 14th after she found the green from the tee.

Kelsey, who is aiming to secure a place on Europe’s Curtis Cup Team to face the USA at Essex County Club, Massachusetts, in June, said: “To be honest, I didn’t really know where I was going as it’s not a course I’ve spent much time on, so I think that made me play a bit slower – I’m normally quite a quick player.

"And I focused a bit more, especially on the greens. I’m looking forward to playing the Ladies European Tour Event, which, I think, will be at Archerfield. I’ve played in the Scottish Open before, when it was held at Carrick, so I can’t wait to have another go.”

University launches national Exercise qualification supporting people with dementia

Date released: Monday 12 April, 2010

A University of Stirling project has developed Scotland’s first qualification for carers who use exercise activities to support people with dementia.

Following a successful pilot, the SQA Level 1 Meaningful Activities for People with Dementia qualification is now set to be rolled out across Scotland.

Working with the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), sports development staff at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence created the four day course which provides knowledge and understanding on how to plan, organise, deliver and evaluate meaningful exercise activities for people with dementia.

Twenty-six people from across the UK completed the pilot course, including Catherine Smith, Activities Co-ordinator at Menstrie House, a residential home for older people in Clackmannanshire.

Previously employed as the cook, Catherine has been running various courses and classes for residents over the past 10 years. “We run quite a number of fitness programmes and have a new exercise bike,” explained Catherine, “and we have a kitchen area with a cooker where the residents can do things like sorting, dusting and of course cooking.

“But the activities I run have just been based on copying others and I was scared in case someone got hurt. This qualification gives me more confidence in what I am doing and also gives me an understanding of the physiological aspects of how it benefits residents.

“It is not so much about building their fitness as about building their self-esteem and making them feel good about themselves so they are not just sitting in a chair all day.”

Based around a gym instructor award, the course covers theory on basic human anatomy and physiology, looking at circulation, bones and joints, the body’s energy systems and muscles.

Further practical units focus on how to support a wide range of activities for people with dementia, from the best way for them to prepare a cup of tea on their own to chair-based exercises.

Over time, people with dementia will become less able to undertake a range of tasks, but they can maintain their independence with the right support.

While the course will help health care professionals and care home staff to provide these stimulating activities to people with dementia, its creator Nicola Redfern believes the qualification can also empower family members caring for their loved ones.

Nicola, a Sports Participation Officer in the Department of Sports Studies, said: “The qualification really can benefit anyone who supports a person with dementia as the activities can work in a care home or in the family home.

“It is based upon research which I undertook, looking at what was happening in care homes and whether staff and managers knew what activities could and should be implemented.

“I found that while they did know the right types of activities, they did not know how to make the next step and offer them or introduce them into the daily routine. This qualification will empower carers to make subtle changes which can make an important difference.”

It is also hoped the qualification will receive further accreditation so it can be offered across the whole of the UK.

Professor June Andrews, DSDC Director, said: “Exercise is shown by research to be one of the few things that can make a significant difference for people with dementia and yet care homes and other settings actively encourage people with dementia to sit still.

“Keeping active helps people with dementia sleep better, eat better and feel better, and could even reduce the need for medication. This course shows things that are practical and useful, and encourages staff to get on and implement what works.”

Graham family strengthens links with University The Graham famly with the University Principal

Date released: Monday 12 April, 2010

Dr Robert Graham, chairman of Bridge of Allan based Graham’s The Family Dairy today further cemented his family’s links with the University of Stirling when he and his wife Jean presented a cheque to Professor Christine Hallett, University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, to support the rebuilding of the University’s library.

Dr Graham and his wife Jean are donating £30,000 to support the creation of a dedicated reading room within the archive section of the £11.7 million new library. To be located on the second level, the archive and reading room will house collections deemed to be of international importance.

The donation will see the Graham family (pictured) receive sole naming rights to the archive reading room that will be called ‘The Robert and Jean Graham Reading Room’.

Dr Graham’s son Robert and daughter Carol, respectively the managing director and marketing director of Graham’s The Family Dairy, gifted the £30,000 to their mother and father as a special way of recognising their family’s close association for many years with the University of Stirling and its lands.

Describing how he and his wife felt when they learned of the unique gift from their offspring, Dr Graham said: “Jean and I were absolutely delighted. It is a very thoughtful and appropriate gift, for as a family the Graham’s have a proud farming heritage in the area and strong connections with the University of Stirling.”

Dr Graham added: “Jean and I are very proud that the Graham family name will now be associated with the reading room at the University of Stirling for generations to come. Today heralds yet another significant milestone in our family’s strong links with one of Scotland’s most respected seats of learning.”

The significant donation and the opportunity to put their family name to the reading room, cements a 71 year-old relationship between Graham’s The Family Dairy and the lands of the University.

In 1939, Dr Graham’s father, also Robert, took up the tenancy of Airthrey Kerse Farm in Bridge of Allan on land that formed part of the Airthrey Estate. The land on which the University library now sits was also pasture on which his dairy cows grazed.

When in 1947, Dr Graham’s father bought Airthrey Kerse Farm from Airthrey Estate, he continued to rent the prized farmland on fields that now form the University of Stirling. In 1967, the Grahams agreed to give up this grazing land in order to allow construction of the University buildings, a move that Dr Graham notes significantly boosted education and employment opportunities in the area.

Subsequently, for over a decade, Dr Graham and his wife Jean managed a busy supermarket on the University campus, initially in the Pathfoot Building and later in the new MacRobert complex.

On its completion, the library building will retain much of its 1970’s styled exterior, reflecting its designation by ICOMOS (the International Council on Monuments and Sites) as one of the UK’s top twenty heritage sites.

Commenting on the decision by Scotland’s largest independent dairy to donate towards a new archive section of the library, Professor Christine Hallett, University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, said: “We are delighted that the Graham family is supporting the transformation of the University Library. Not only are they close neighbours and business friends, but the Graham name has a long association with the historic Airthrey Estate on which the University is located. It is very fitting that there will be the Graham Reading Room for the University Archive and Special Collections.”

Work on the new library started in September 2009 and is scheduled to be completed in August this year.

Background notes:

• Graham’s The Family Dairy was established in 1939 by Dr Graham’s father, also called Robert, at Airthrey Kerse farm in Bridge of Allan.

• From producing just 400 pints of milk per day, Scotland’s largest independent dairy produces over 360,000 litres.

• Dr Graham’s son, Robert, is managing director of the family dairy. His sister Carol is marketing director.

• The family’s award-winning range of Graham’s Gold, Organic and Scottish Dairy milks, creams, butters and ice-cream are listed in major supermarkets including Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Asda, Waitrose and Lidl.

• The family recently launched the UK’s first 1% Organic milk – listed in over 500 Sainsbury’s stores across the UK.

• The dairy has won a number of prestigious awards including its Graham’s Gold range being named Marketing Initiative of the Year and for Best Dairy, Confectionary & Snacking Product at the 2009 Scotland Food and Drink Excellence Awards. In 2009, Graham’s Gold ice-cream was named best in category at the Royal Highland Show and Sainsbury’s named Graham’s ice-cream as its Frozen Food Launch of the Year.

• For more information on the history of the Airthrey estate, click here.

University launches new Postgraduate Fair

Date released: Tuesday 13 April, 2010

Are you a student coming to the end of your undergraduate degree studies? Perhaps you already have a first degree and you’re wondering what your next step might be?  Or it may be that, after a few years in the workplace, you want to maximise your career opportunities by adding to the qualifications which have brought you this far.

If any of the above apply, come along to our first ever Graduate Fair and discover how Postgraduate (PG) study can support your professional ambitions.

The University will be mounting an exhibition and giving various presentations on Postgraduate study, which should be of interest to current and past university students alike.  Academic  staff members from all University Departments will be available to chat with you on the range of opportunities available, as well as current Postgraduate students who can tell you what studying for a doctorate involves here at Stirling.

Ian Cockbain, Director of Student Recruitment and Admissions Service said: “The PG Fair is an excellent opportunity to showcase our graduate programmes to anyone interested in embarking upon both research and taught programmes guided by world-class scholars and researchers. We do believe that the postgraduate qualifications we provide at Stirling, serve our graduates in good stead in the world of employment.”

On Tuesday 20 April from 12-2pm, the exhibition will be located at the Pathfoot Crush Hall, with presentations taking place in Room B2. On Thursday 22 April, the exhibition will be located at The Atrium (Andrew Miller Building) and the presentations will be delivered in Room A6 (Cottrell Building).

The presentations will include introductions to graduate studies by our Postgraduate Admissions Office, Academic talks, Current PG student presentations and information on funding, scholarships, housing and other issues.

On the question of tuition fees, current University of Stirling students , whether home, visiting or international, are entitled to a 10% tuition fee discount on their graduate studies, should they embark on their PG degree with us.

If you would like to know more about the various academic areas covered by the University – or the wide range of courses covered – click on to:

For more information on the Graduate Fair email:

Stirling Management School joins forces with Foreign Trade University, VietnamProfessor Roger Sugden, Head of Stirling Management School

Date released: Tuesday 13 April, 2010

The University has struck a deal to deliver its prestigious MBA in Finance in Vietnam. The new collaboration between Stirling Management School and Foreign Trade University in Hanoi will be launched in January 2011, with modules being delivered by academic staff from both institutions.

Professor Roger Sugden (pictured), Director of Stirling Management School, explained: “This course will provide Vietnamese students with a quality MBA in Finance.  Our strategic alliance with Foreign Trade University strengthens the School’s international profile, reputation and influence in research-led activities.

“Foreign Trade University has welcomed these new developments in the MBA curriculum, reinforcing the quality of the Stirling MBA programme and providing students with necessary experience and knowledge of key issues regarding emerging economies, and responsibility in management.”

The four taught modules that will be delivered by academic staff from Stirling include: Business in and with Emerging Economies, Responsible Business in Society, Strategy and Leadership, and Project Management and Research.  These four modules will also form the critical foundations for the new curriculum of the Stirling MBA, which will be delivered on the Stirling Campus from 2011 onwards. 

It is expected that once it  is established in Hanoi, the MBA will be introduced to students in Ho Chi Minh City, in the future. The Scotland-Vietnam collaboration was made possible after Stirling Management School secured funding from the British Council PMI2 Connect project, Collaborative Programme Delivery strand. 

Background information:

Foreign Trade University, established in 1960, is regarded as a leading educational provider in Vietnam, specialising in the teaching of economics and management. 

The Prime Minister's Initiative for International Education (PMI2), launched in April 2006, is a five-year strategy which aims to secure the UK's position as a leader in international education and sustain the growth of UK international education delivered in the UK and overseas.  This initiative offers sought-after funding opportunities to build partnerships between institutions in the UK and in selected countries worldwide, with a view to these partnerships becoming sustainable beyond PMI2 funding.

For further information, please contact: Lisa Campbell, School Marketing Officer, University of Stirling Management School: or call: 01786 467312

(Please note: owing to travel disruption created by volcanic ash concerns, this seminar has been postponed)

Loughborough Professor delivers lecture tackling behavioural aspects of physical activity

Date released: Wednesday 14 April, 2010

The Professor of Exercise and Sports Psychology at Loughborough University will deliver a public lecture at Stirling on Thursday April 22.

Professor Stuart Biddle will address the question: Behavioural aspects of physical activity, sedentary behaviour and health. Why isn’t there a simple answer to a complex issue?

A Past-President of the European Federation for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (FEPSAC), Stuart is also a former Chair of the Scientific Committee of the European College of Sport Science.

In 1998, Stuart received the Distinguished International Scholar Award from the Association for the Advancement of Applied Sport Psychology in the USA and in 2007 was awarded Honorary Membership of FEPSAC.

He has undertaken extensive research on issues of the psychology of and motivation for physical activity for the British Heart Foundation, NHS Health Scotland, Masterfoods, sportscotland, Esporta Health Clubs, the Coca-Cola Foundation, NICE, and the Golf Foundation.

Stuart will deliver his seminar as part of the Department of Sports Studies Research Seminars and Lectures in Sport series, bringing down the curtain on a successful series which has also featured a public debate on the future of Scottish football featuring SFA chief executive Gordon Smith and an analysis of drugs in sport with Michele Verroken, former Director of Ethics and Anti-Doping at UK Sport.

The seminar will be held at 6pm in Lecture Theatre W1 in the Cottrell Building. For further information, please contact Karen Caldwell on 01786 466498 or e-mail

Curtis Cup hopeful Kelsey MacDonald on course thanks to her winning mentality

Date released: Friday, 16 April, 2010

Two stunning scores have given Curtis Cup hopeful Kelsey MacDonald the winning mentality at the perfect time.

MacDonald, a University of Stirling scholarship student, is in peak form ahead of the Helen Holm Scottish Ladies’ Open Amateur Stroke Play Championship next Friday (23 April).

A remarkable final round 68 on St Andrews’ Castle Course – the best round of the day – ensured she was crowned the 2010 R&A Foundation Scholars Tournament women’s champion, finishing second overall behind fellow Stirling student Patrick Spraggs.

This followed success in Spain where MacDonald clawed back an eight shot deficit in the final round to be crowned the Hacienda del Alamo Women’s Open champion. The sun was well and truly shining on MacDonald, who finished runner-up on a countback after tying for first with Welsh international Amy Boulden in the Murcia Ladies Open. The pair finished in front of three other Curtis Cup squad members.

Kelsey MacDonald aiming for Curtis Cup selection“It has been my best season so far,” commented MacDonald, who also reached the semi-finals of the Jones/Doherty matchplay on the Orange Blossom Tour in January before further impressive performances in France and Spain. “I’ve played a lot more tournaments than in previous years and I’ve managed to have consistently good rounds.

“It sounds silly, but I’ve learned how to win. I used to try and make the cut, then it was the target of the top ten - now I aim to win. And because I’ve won some events in the last two years, I have the hunger to win even more.”

Having been named in the provisional GB&I Curtis Cup squad, MacDonald has been playing as much golf as possible in a bid to impress the Ladies Golf Union selectors before they announce the final eight on Sunday directly after the Helen Holm event in Troon.

A second year Sports Studies student at Scotland’s University for Sporting Excellence, MacDonald has been selected two years running for Scotland’s national student sports scholarship scheme Winning Students.

And if she can continue her strong form into the Helen Holm event next week, where she finished runner-up last year, then MacDonald - arguably the best performing Scottish amateur women’s player in 2010 - will be difficult to overlook.

She added: “The Helen Holm is traditionally seen as the start of the season, but with the Curtis Cup in June, it’s important to be peaking around now. I wasn’t expecting to finish so high last year although I had been playing well.

“But this year my results going into it are much better so I am definitely looking forward to playing and I know I can win. Royal Troon is always in great condition, it’s a tough course, always windy, so it is never going to be easy.

“It is quite hard knowing this is the last tournament before the team is selected. There is that pressure on you knowing the selectors are watching, but you have to use that in a good way and show why you should be picked.”

Are the Highlands heading for the deep freeze? Environmental historian, Professor Richard Oram

Date released: Monday 19 April, 2010

Several consecutive years of cold wet summers, rife with localised flooding and landslips, followed by one of the longest and harshest winters on record, have left people in the Highlands and Islands focused on the weather.

According to Richard Oram (pictured), Professor of Environmental History at the University of Stirling, the real issue we are facing is climate change but we can mitigate the effects of it by learning from the past.

Archaeological evidence shows that climate change has determined the area’s past, shapes its present, and will impact its future. This is the subject of the Stirling Lecture, ‘Environmental Heritage in the Highlands and Islands’, which he will deliver in Inverness on Thursday 29 April. The event is free and open to all, and takes place at the Centre for Health Science, Raigmore Hospital, at 5.30pm.

According to Professor Oram, there is a remarkable concurrence between some of most dire events in human history and the depths of the episodes of climate change taking place at those times. “Climate change occurs when global warming increases weather instability and variability,” he explains. “While these weather changes may be subtle year on year, they can be profound over just a few decades.  This can affect every aspect of people’s livelihoods – whether that’s fishing, working the land or rearing livestock – so inevitably, it affects their lives.

 “Archaological evidence shows that, throughout history, major environmental events have occurred which have dramatically impacted human culture and society. In almost every case, society has demonstrated resilience and the ability to adapt to its changing circumstances in sustainable ways.

“We have enjoyed a long period of relative environmental stability. But nothing stands still – especially not Nature,” says Professor Oram. “Things definitely began to change in the 20th century: before this there had been a measure of predictability about the pace and scale of environmental change but our current situation is unprecedented because everything is changing at a much faster speed.

“The good news is that this time around, the Highlands and Western Isles are well placed to develop what is potentially a positive side to the hand we’re now being dealt by Nature. Wind and water are elements which, together with our technological edge, can be turned to communities’ advantage.”

Professor Grant Jarvie, Deputy Principal of the University of Stirling, said: “We have a long-standing commitment to the Highlands and Islands, and our world-class scholars and researchers are focused upon key areas of life in the area. The Stirling Lectures this year focus on the environment, bringing this research to a wider audience.”

To reserve a place or for further information, telephone 01463 255649 or email

Further information on the lecture

Professor Oram cautions that, while the Highlands and Islands are well placed to deal with climate change, the area may suffer because of its proximity to the Atlantic. Just as it has suffered before….

In 900AD the Medieval warm era had just begun, bringing to the Scottish Highlands a climactic pattern of relative stability, with average temperatures around 1.5% higher than they are today.  For almost 300 years, this encouraged a Highland pastoral society in which livestock numbers greatly increased, cereals such as wheat could be grown and crops generally were more abundant, owing to the dryer, warmer climate conditions. The result was higher populations, a buoyant economy and more tax revenues.

According to Professor Oram, the European population reached a peak in 1300AD.  But conditions were changing and the period now known as the Little Ice Age had begun.  The spread of sea ice caused a change in north Atlantic surface temperatures, which in turn altered the high pressure systems throughout the year. This created a ‘refrigerator’ effect and caused temperatures to drop dramatically. By the middle of the 14thcentury, the growth period for crops had started two weeks later and stopped two weeks earlier. With animal grazing now restricted to lower altitudes, feed became scarcer. Crops began to fail and there were outbreaks of livestock disease, famine, and human epidemics.

Meanwhile storms and winds eroded the machair and the cultivated land beyond, so that whole areas became overwhelmed by sand. Economically, this was the final catastrophe for many on Scotland’s west coast and evidence from archaological sights of that period point to the sudden abandonment of villages – such as the herring fishing communities of Bornish.

Subsequent centuries were marked by environmental extremes, accompanied by widespread famines, and epidemics of influenza, cholera and malaria. Social unrest led to revolution and wars and it wasn’t until the 18th century that population numbers began to recover.

(Please note: this lecture was initially scheduled to be delivered on Thursday 25 February and was postponed due to adverse weather conditions and transport disruptions at that time.)

Sculpture’s Place in the University Art Collection: Lecture 'Reservoir Tap' by Joe Ingleby, on the Sculpture Trail

Date released: Monday 19 April, 2010

During its 42 years spent welcoming and teaching students, the University of Stirling has amassed an impressive collection of over 300 works of art to include paintings, sketches, tapestries, sculpture and silver. The painstaking creation of this collection, and the stories behind the many generous gifts which have enhanced it, are the subject of a lecture which will be given by Helen Beale, on Friday 23 April, at 1pm.

Entitled ‘The Place(s) of Sculpture in the University of Stirling Art Collection’ the lecture will be given in the Pathfoot Lecture Theatre, Pathfoot Building. Entry is free and the lecture is open to all.

Ms Beale spent 37 years lecturing in the University’s Department of French. While in post she retrained in Art History, before teaching the subject both in Stirling and in the University of Passau. Her main research interests are modern sculpture, French Resistance war memorials, and modern French painting.

The University’s tradition of collecting art goes back to its founding in 1967 and the vision of its first Principal, Professor Tom Cottrell. A scientist by training, he came from an artistic background and had very clear ideas about art and its place in society. He felt that art should be part of the everyday experience at the University, so in the first building phase, 1% of the cost of each new building was earmarked for the purchase of art with which to decorate it.

As a result, much of the Collection was purchased in the late ‘60s and ‘70s and was enhanced by two large and valuable gifts. The first was the donation of fourteen works by the Scottish Colourist painter J D Fergusson, presented to Stirling by the artist's widow, Margaret Morris. The second was the donation of fifteen paintings and three sculptures given to the University in 1997 as part of the Scottish Arts Council Bequest.

Today, Tom Cottrell’s philosophy continues to inspire the University to collect and show exciting art, both to its students and the wider public and Helen Beale’s lecture will focus on one aspect of the Collection.

She will explore the current and anticipated importance of sculpture in the Collection, by looking at the various types of site in which sculpture is displayed – whether indoor gallery space, open air courtyards recently re-designed as sites for sculpture, or the emergent outdoor Sculpture Trail across the campus.

Background note:

The stainless steel sculpture pictured is entitled 'Reservoir Tap'. It was created by Joe Ingleby and is one of many sculptural works sited around the campus.

To reserve a place in advance, call: 01786 467055 or email:

For further information, please email Jane Cameron, the University’s Art Curator at:


Sculpture gifted to the University of StirlingDr Alastair Ross holding his gift to the University

Date released: Monday 19 April, 2010

The University of Stirling has received a generous addition to its growing art collection with the arrival of Danaë II, an enigmatic yet lovely female torso.

Gifted by its creator, renowned figurative sculptor Dr Alastair Ross (pictured), it is made of gilded jesmonite, the second of a cast of 10 pieces and stands approximately 18 inches high.  It is a desirable addition to those works of art already exhibited around the University complex.

Explaining the reason for his generous gift, Dr Ross said: “I have close connections with the area, as I grew up in nearby Dunblane and attended St Mary’s Episcopal Primary School. I have many fond memories of climbing to the top of the Wallace Monument with my father, watching the annual Sunday race over Dumyat and taking the riverside walk from Dunblane into Bridge of Allan. Also my godson was born at Airthrey Castle when it was a maternity home.  So this gift to the University is my way of re-establishing those connections.”

During the 1960s, Perth born Dr Ross studied at the Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art in Dundee, graduating with distinction. He has lectured in various art colleges and universities, both in Scotland and the States. His work has won countless awards and appeared in exhibitions, both in the UK and abroad, as well as being purchased for both public and private collections, worldwide.

The arrival of Danaë II into its collection places the University in good company.  For not only does Dr Ross’s work grace the headquarters of organisations such as the P & O Steam Navigation Company, Rank Xerox International and  establishments like the Royal Calcutta Gold Club in India, but private collectors include Sharleen Spiteri, David Tennant, Nick Nairn, Nicola Benedetti, Paolo Nutini and J K Rowling.

Jane Cameron, Collections Curator said: “We very much appreciate Dr Ross’s generous gift.  It will greatly add to our Art Collection, which is designed to inspire everyone who comes to study here.

“The University’s architecture is very individual and special and a perfect foil for art in every form.  Much of our Collection is placed in the University’s public spaces, making it accessible to the thousands of students, staff and visitors who pass through the campus each day.”

Dr Ross’s subjects range from the religious to the architectural and heraldic and, while some of his pieces are dramatically bold and abstract, others are finely executed elegant figures and portraits. However, the beauty and mystique of the human figure remains firmly at the core of his thinking and underpins all his sculptural output – a legacy of his time spent in Greece as a postgraduate student.  

“I was left with the lasting impression of these fragmentary Greek figures, with their simplicity of interpretation which left much to the imagination. Now my sculpture is often predicated on the simple things of life – birth, death, fertility – and the emotions arising from these realities, which don’t change through the generations.

“I think the University art collection is splendid.  The first principal, Tom Cottrell, had a holistic approach to learning which acknowledged the importance of art and I think, by initiating the creation of an art collection, he was by far the most far-sighted principal of his time.

“I believe art creates a sense of wonderment, not just about nature but also about the creative spirit. It can move people greatly, even when they don’t believe they are pre-disposed to art. By the time new students have completed their first couple of semesters, their appreciation of art has probably crept up on them so that they feel pride in the collection – and would experience a sense of loss if they didn’t have it. It broadens their cultural experience and reminds them that learning isn’t just about weights, measures and prose.

“With its loch, its undulating landscape and its many attractive courtyards, the Stirling campus is a fabulous location for outdoor sculptures and your curator has chosen works which live really well within the grounds, seeming almost to grow out of the surrounding landscape.”

Note to editors:

According to a Greek legend, Danaë was the daughter of Acricius, King of Argos.  She was confined by her father in an inaccessible tower of brass to prevent the fulfilment of an oracle that she would be the mother of a son who would kill him. But Zeus found access to her in the form of a shower of gold and she became the mother of Perseus, by whose hand eventually Acricius met his fate.


Stirling hill race tests skill and courage

Date released: Monday 26 April, 2010

A Stirling hill race which started as a bet is under starters orders for the 37th running.

The scenic Dumyat Hill Race takes place next Wednesday (5 May) at the University of Stirling, attracting runners from all over Scotland.

First created when a university psychologist laid a £1 bet claiming the return trip from the Gannochy Pavilion to the top of the Dumyat was impossible in less than an hour, the challenging route comprises a 390 metre climb (1,280 feet) over an 8km (five mile) distance.

The scenic Dumyat Hill RaceA field of more than 250 runners took on the testing challenge last year, with the men’s event won by Glasgow University student Matthew Gillespie in 35 minutes exactly, while former World Hill Running Champion Angela Mudge collected the women’s title for the fifth year running in a time of 40m 29s.

Mudge, a Stirling graduate, holds the women’s record of 36m 46s set in 2007 and the men’s record, posted by Stirling student Iain Donnan in the same year, stands at an incredible 32m 52s.

Regular Dumyat competitor Kerry MacPhee, a Graduate Assistant at the University, reckons it is a unique experience. She said: “It is always a lot of fun even though there are plenty of tricky bits like the very slippery slopes encountered at the foot of the hill. I actually found they were to my advantage as I am quite fearless so threw everything – including my whole body – into it.

“It is an extremely well organised event with prizes for a range of categories and plenty of marshals to cheer you on along the way.”

University of Stirling Sports Participation Co-ordinator Gail Niven said: “The Dumyat Hill Race has always been a very popular event as it is appeals to beginners – being a short distance – and is also challenging for experienced runners.”

The race will also double as the Scottish Universities Hill Running Championship.

The 37th Dumyat Hill Race starts at 7pm on Wednesday 5 May 2010. Entries will be taken in the University of Stirling Sports Centre from 5.45pm-6.45pm on the evening of the race. Public entries cost £3.50 and £2.50 for students and staff.

Background information

Dumyat Hill Race was created when a university psychologist, propping up the Gannochy Bar, laid a £1 bet that “no member of the University could, without mechanical assistance, do the return trip from the Gannochy Pavilion to Dumyat in less than an hour.”

On Graduation Day 1972 the £1 was lost by three minutes. The first “official” race was held in 1973 and it has been held annually in May ever since. More than 250 runners are expected this year and there are entry categories to cater for all ability levels.

Historical note: Dumyat is pronounced dum-eye-at, being a contraction of Dun Myat, ie the fortress of the Maeatae, a Pictish group. The remains of the fort are near the summit.


Leading economist's election blog

Date released: Friday 30 April 2010

Leading Scottish economist David Bell, Professor of Economics at the University of Stirling Management School, has created a blog which covers key economic topics in the build-up to the general election.

Among his contributions, Professor Bell and fellow Stirling Professor Danny Blanchflower (until recently an external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee) have had a joint paper published in the CesIFO Forum – a quarterly economic journal produced by the Ifo Institute in Munich for the academic and business communities, principally in Germany.

Entitled Recession and Unemployment in the OECD, and located via the blog, the paper compares how different labour markets have responded to recession across OECD countries. There have been a very wide variety of responses, reflecting both the differences in the structure of the various labour markets and the measures taken by individual governments to combat unemployment.

Other Stirling Management School economics blogs, including commentary by Professor Blanchflower, are available at

Professor David Bell can be contacted on: 01786 467486 or email:

Talking Mats provide an aid to communication for people with dementia

Date released: Thursday 29 April 2010

A new communication tool is helping people with dementia and their carers to communicate more effectively and feel more involved in making decisions, according to new research published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

The report - Talking Mats® and involvement in decision making for people with dementia and family carers - looks at how the low-tech communication tool, Talking Mats, can help people with dementia and their family carer (e.g. spouse, son, daughter) be more involved with decision-making about managing daily life.

Talking Mats, developed by Dr Joan Murphy at the University of Stirling, uses a simple system of picture symbols on a textured mat. This allows people to express their views about various topics more easily, identify their strengths and abilities more clearly, and reduce anxiety of both the person with dementia and their family carer.

Dr Murphy, co-author of the report, said: “It is generally acknowledged that people with dementia may have difficulty admitting they are having problems due to memory loss and communication difficulties.  Many also cannot manage day-to-day activities without some support from others.”

“The research showed that people with dementia felt Talking Mats clarified their thoughts and enabled them to express their views. The framework allowed them to convey their thoughts to their family carers, and helped them to reach a decision about how they were managing different aspects of their lives.”

The researchers reported a number of key outcomes:

  • Talking Mats helped improve communication and therefore relationships, between people with dementia and their family carers.
  • People with dementia reported that Talking Mats helped them to clarify and express their thoughts and reach a decision in discussions with carers. One person said: “It is so difficult to tell [my wife] what I think when I can’t remember the words, the pictures could help me a lot.”
  • Although people with dementia and their family carers both felt more involved in discussions when using Talking Mats , this response was significantly higher for family carers, who reported feeling ‘listened to’ by the person with dementia. One carer said: “It never seems like he is listening to me. With this I can make him sit down and look at symbols and get him to understand what I am trying to say.”

Recent guidance from the Department of Health recommends that people with dementia should have more involvement in decisions about their care options. Government policy also states that people with dementia and their carers should influence how government strategies and targets are implemented.

This latest research from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has implications for the improvement and delivery of services and could also be a significant help in changing policy. Philippa Hare, JRF Programme Manager, said: “If, as policy-makers suggest, the aim is now to truly engage people with dementia and their families in decisions about their care, then Talking Mats offer an innovative means of allowing the views of people with dementia and their family carers to be heard.”

The report, Talking Mats® and involvement in decision making for people with dementia and family carers, by Dr Joan Murphy, Tracey M. Oliver and Sylvia Cox is available to download for free at

University wins prestigious NHS contract

Date released: Thursday, 29 April 2010

NHS Scotland has chosen the University of Stirling to assist in the development of its future leaders by providing the Master’s element of their prestigious Management Training Scheme. 

The Master’s programme will be developed and delivered by the inter-disciplinary Stirling Institute for People-Centred Healthcare Management, chaired by Dr Mike Walsh.  The Institute is a partnership between Stirling Management School and the Department of Nursing and Midwifery and is strongly focused on Scottish healthcare management.

The university is delighted to be working with the NHS in Scotland.  Professor Roger Sugden, Director of Stirling Management School, explained: “The School is committed to providing opportunities for students, citizens and organisations to think about and study management issues that are important to the development of particular societies and communities. The NHS Scotland Management Training Scheme Master’s Qualification that we are offering epitomises our concerns and our approach. We will draw upon our international experiences and our network of collaborators to bring to bear innovative and creative learning opportunities for the future leaders of NHS Scotland, thereby helping to serve the communities of Scotland.”

Ms Jill Sandford, Programme Leader, NHS Scotland Management Training Scheme, explained: “The Management Training Scheme is aimed at creating the future leaders of the NHS in Scotland and the Master’s programme is a key aspect of this.”

The Institute team was led by Dr Brian Howieson who is the Programme Director, and the first students will arrive at Stirling in September.

University researchers record striking example of dignity in death Dr James Anderson, expert in non human primates' social behaviour

Date released: Tuesday 27 April, 2010

The peaceful death of an elderly female surrounded by close family members has been captured on video. The family is recorded administering pre-death care and testing for life signs at the moment of death. The deceased’s daughter is observed undertaking an all-night vigil over the body, which is later cleaned. And afterwards, the family members avoid interfering with the spot where the death occurred. While these are rituals we can recognise and many of us may have personally experienced, the death in question was that of a chimpanzee.

In the 24 hours since the death of Pansy the 50-something chimpanzee at Blair Drummond Safari Park was announced, nearly 23,000 references have appeared on Google. “This shows how the manner of Pansy’s death has caught the public’s imagination,” says Dr James Anderson (pictured) from the Department of Psychology Department. Dr Anderson is an expert in the social behaviour of non human primates and his research team captured Pansy’s last hours on film. The video cameras had been installed several months earlier, for PhD student Louise Lock’s study on the group’s night-time behaviour; it therefore became possible to capture this unique event, which has been shown on national television news programmes.

There is already ample evidence that chimps don’t like to be involuntarily separated from their social group and find the experience traumatic.  Pansy’s social group had not been separated in over 20 years and so to avoid separation-induced stress, the keepers took the unusual step of medicating her in situ and leaving her with her family members, both before and after her death.

As far as the researchers are aware, it’s the first time that the natural death of a chimpanzee has been witnessed and recorded in this way. It is also the first time that this particular social group of great apes has been present at the natural death of one of their number. Since they had no previous experience or model on which to base their actions, their behaviour   – and its striking similarities with the human response to the death of a close family member – raise many important questions for us.

“Although there are various cultural variations, we humans tend to formalise our sense of loss with various rules and regulations,” Dr Anderson explains. “People explain the reasons for their rituals by framing their actions in terms of cultural or religious observance.  Now we might find we have to question the evolutionary origins of some our beliefs, because the film clearly shows that our nearest evolutionary neighbours display some very similar responses. This raises the question of whether we humans are indeed unique in respect of our sense of ‘self’.”

 It’s already known that chimps, who recognise themselves in mirrors, have self-awareness and a basic sense of their own identity. They are also capable of showing empathy towards their group members – and according to the researchers, these two capacities are pre-requisites for an awareness and understanding of death.

“Our findings have provided more evidence that the chimps’ primary emotions are pre-programmed; they don’t have to learn to feel grief,” says Dr Anderson.  “And since we already have evidence that there are different social behaviours across different chimp communities, cultural variations in their responses to natural death may also be a possibility.

“We studied this event and reported our findings from a completely scientific perspective. Our aim was to produce a scientifically valid paper which could add to the debate surrounding chimpanzee management practices. We recorded the chimps’ behaviour without at any time alluding to motives or emotions. 

“However, anyone who works with great apes is aware of the richness of their emotional experiences and certainly the event we witnessed was very moving. It may be that these findings will influence our future approach to working with great apes in captivity, or promote greater awareness of our need to conserve great ape social groups in their natural habitat.”

Since death and dying have long been subjects of debate amongst anthropologists, philosophers and other groups, it is also possible that the results of this fascinating great ape study might feed into a much wider discussion.

The Department of Psychology at the university has a long history of behavioural studies of non-human primates. Members of staff and research students have recently worked on topics as diverse as contagious yawning, communication, cultural transmission, factors influencing reproduction, environmental enrichment for captive primates, learning and memory, and ecological adaptations. Find out more at:



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