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News archive for July 2010

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News Archive

July 2010

Richard Edwards named Routledge Author of the Month

Pesticide exposure of pregnant women linked to childhood cancer

Locating Robert Louis Stevenson - in Stirling

Business leaders to share expertise

Launch of single measure for identifying clinically significant emotional distress in children

New strategies for older workers

'Threats and Challenges to World Order in 2010’: Lord Robertson delivers lecture

The search is on for Forth Valley NHS health heroes

Stirling celebrates international status with Singapore ceremony

Richard Edwards named Routledge Author of the Month

Date released: Thursday, 1 July 2010

Richard Edwards

Professor Richard Edwards, Head of The Stirling Institute of Education, has been named July’s author of the month by Routledge Education.

Professor Edwards, one of Scotland’s leading educationalists, has researched and written extensively on many aspects of lifelong learning, policy studies, further and adult education. He is particularly interested in exploring these areas drawing upon post-structuralist and socio-material perspectives.

His most recent books for Routledge Education are ‘Actor-network Theory in Education’, ‘Rethinking Contexts for Learning and Teaching’, and ‘Improving Learning in College: Rethinking Literacies Across the Curriculum’.

He said: “I am delighted to receive this recognition which shows that education in Scotland is at the forefront of current thinking. At a time of considerable change in Scottish education, this helps to keep the University of Stirling – a leading provider of professional education – in the public eye.“

Professor Edwards, who joined the University of Stirling in 2001, is a member of the Council of the General Teaching Council for Scotland, and of the Management Group of the Centre for Research in Lifelong Learning. Between 2004-6, he was Co-Director of "Literacies for Learning in Further Education", a three-year research project funded under Phase III of the ESRC's Teaching and Learning Research Programme.

Before coming to Stirling, he was Reader in Education (Lifelong Learning) at the Open University, where he was involved in producing distance learning courses for those interested in post-compulsory education and training.

Pesticide exposure of pregnant women linked to childhood cancer

Date released: Friday, 2 July 2010

A review report published today by CHEM Trust highlights that some research studies indicate that pesticide exposure either prior to conception, during pregnancy or during childhood appears to increase the risk of childhood cancer, with maternal pesticide exposure during pregnancy being most consistently associated with childhood cancer.

Furthermore, the report notes that several studies indicate that farmers are at greater risk of developing certain cancers than the general population.  In particular, several studies strongly suggest that pesticide exposures are associated with some cases of non Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL), leukaemia, prostate cancer and other hormone related cancers.

Andrew Watterson, Professor of Health at Stirling University and co-author of the report noted: "Occupational and environmental cancers have been a neglected public health issue in the UK for decades. The report highlights the substantial nature of the threat from pesticide exposure.  In the UK, oversight of pesticides has continued to err on the side of products rather than people and of course relies on data generated initially by the pesticide manufacturers.  The regulatory response has usually been ‘if in doubt, do continue using pesticides’ when the scientific literature is littered with examples of products that have been cleared in the past emerging as known or suspect human carcinogens.  There is a long-overdue and urgent need to mount a cancer prevention campaign on pesticides based on effective precautionary principles.”

The CHEM Trust report highlights that certain cancers have increased dramatically in recent decades, showing that environmental factors must be partly to blame with pesticide exposures suspected to play a role in some cases.  Cancer trend data are raising the alarm. 

In Britain over the last 30 years (1975/6 – 2005/6):

  • Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma has more than doubled.
  • Testicular cancer has doubled.
  • Breast cancer in women has increased by two thirds, and in men quadrupled.
  • Prostate cancer has tripled.
  • And in the 35 years up to 1998, childhood cancer in Britain increased by 35%.

With one in three Europeans being diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime the report concludes that EU governments should urgently focus more on cancer prevention.  CHEM Trust calls on the UK Government to give greater consideration to cancer prevention via better control of chemicals, and for specific measures to reduce pesticide exposures.  These include strict implementation of the new EU legislation on pesticides so that pesticides that disrupt hormones, and those suspected to cause cancer are substituted with safer alternatives; and giving people living in houses bordering agricultural land a legal right to be notified in advance of any pesticide spraying operations, if they so request. This would give those living in rural areas the option of reducing their families’ exposure by, for example, bringing their children in from the garden, not hanging clothes out to dry on that day, or shutting their windows.

Gwynne Lyons, Director of CHEM Trust and other co-author of the report commented: “Pesticide exposures may interact with other chemical exposures and genetic factors, to cause cancer.   Research suggests that pregnant women, in particular, should avoid direct exposure to pesticides, if possible. It is high time that the UK was more supportive of EU proposals to take a tougher approach to reducing exposure to potentially harmful chemicals.  If the UK is to shed its image of being the laggard in the EU,4  then the UK Government must robustly implement the new EU pesticides legislation in order to try and reduce the burden of cancer in children, farmers and others exposed to pesticides.”

The report is entitled “A review of the role pesticides play in some cancers: Children, farmers and pesticide users at risk?”

CHEM (Chemicals, Health and Environment Monitoring) Trust is a charity which aims to protect humans and chemicals from harmful chemicals.

Locating Robert Louis Stevenson - in Stirling

Date released: Monday 5 July 2010

The world-wide hunt for Robert Louis Stevenson’s lost manuscripts will be a major topic of discussion when experts on the Scottish author come to Stirling in this week.

Encouraged by the rediscovery of an unpublished article Stevenson wrote early in his career, which had been missing for almost a hundred years before surfacing in an American university library, delegates will share the fruits of their archival research at a three-day conference.

Many of Stevenson's manuscripts were sold by his stepdaughter in 1914, and have not been traced since. However, one of them recently turned up in Syracuse University archive, 'How Books Have to be Written', which he submitted to a boys’ magazine.

Among those hunting for the Scottish author’s lost manuscripts, many of which are thought to be awaiting discovery in libraries around the world, is Richard Dury, a series editor of the New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of RLS. He said: “In the database of Stevenson’s prose works prepared for the edition, about half are without any manuscript.

“Some of these missing manuscripts have actually surfaced in sales, only to disappear again: these include the essays ‘Virginibus Puerisque’ and ‘On Falling in Love’, sold in a British Red Cross fund-raising sale in 1918 but unheard of since, also a companion essay to ‘How Books Have to be Written’, ‘On the Value of Books and Reading’, sold in 1914; and Stevenson’s journal written as a law clerk in Edinburgh, sold in 1924.

“These works are probably still in private collections, but they may also be in some library with the fact not so far uncovered by scholars.

“Unfortunately it is unlikely that we will ever find manuscripts to major works that have never been reported in sales catalogues. Among the forever lost works are the manuscripts of Treasure Island, The Black Arrow and The Master of Ballantrae.”

Locating Stevenson, the sixth in a biennial series of conferences, is being held at the University of Stirling from 8-10 July, and has attracted Stevenson aficionados from around the world.

Conference organiser Dr Scott Hames, of the University of Stirling, said: “This series of conferences reflects the revival of critical interest in Stevenson, as does the New Edinburgh Edition of his collected works. While Stevenson's fiction was, for much of the twentieth century, unjustly dismissed as ‘adventure stories for boys’, he was revered by modern writers such as Jorge Luis Borges and Italo Calvino.”

Among those speaking at the conference are delegates from USA, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan.

Further information

  • For further details on the conference, see:
  • The University of Stirling is a particularly appropriate venue for a Stevenson conference, as the writer was inspired by frequent visits to the locality in his youth.
  • Further information on his visits to Stirlingshire can be found at

Business leaders to share expertise

Date released: Thursday 8 July 2010

Scottish businesses and communities are to benefit from the unique expertise of some of the nation’s highest profile business leaders.

A new advisory panel has been set up by the University of Stirling Management School to bring together the knowledge, skills and experiences of eminent people from the public, private and third sector, and to facilitate knowledge exchange and engagement. 

The panel members will help business people, academics, students, policy-makers and communities to identify opportunities and solve problems.

Roger Sugden, Director of the Stirling Management School explained: “The School is a place where ideas, learning and analysis come together to make life better for communities of people. It looks to challenge businesses and organisations, and to challenge the communities of which they are a part, so that the world might be shaped into something better.  

“Members of the panel are experienced in particular fields, in Scotland and internationally and will act as advisers and ambassadors in developing the School’s distinctive culture, its particular expertise and its novel contribution to the development of societies and communities.”

Those who will provide advice and support on Stirling Management School’s Development Advisory Panel include:

Robert Graham, Managing Director, Graham’s The Family Dairy;

Fiona McKenzie, Chief Executive, NHS Forth Valley;

Peter Lederer, Managing Director, The Gleneagles Hotel;

Jonathan Mills, Festival Director, Edinburgh Festivals.

For further information, contact Lisa Campbell, Stirling Management School, on 01786 467312 or email

Stirling Management School:

Launch of single measure for identifying clinically significant emotional distress in children

Date released: Thursday 8 July 2010

Professor Rory O Connor

A staggering 1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 to 16 suffers from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three in every classroom. It is widely accepted that most adult mental illness originates in childhood so it is essential that issues are detected and treated early to prevent them from escalating into more serious problems in later life.

GL Assessment has today launched the Paediatric Index of Emotional Distress (PI-ED), a single yet robust measure that will make it easier for clinical practitioners and others working with children and young people to identify clinically significant symptoms of emotional distress in 8 to 16-year-olds.

Based on the highly-regarded Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), which is widely used to aid the diagnosis of anxiety and depression in adults, the PI-ED uses language and concepts that are appropriate for children and is the only measure of its kind designed to differentiate between symptoms of emotional distress and those of physical illness.

Dr Suzy O’Connor, Child Clinical Psychologist with NHS Ayrshire & Arran who led the development of the PI-ED, said: “It is vital that professionals have the ability to simply and accurately identify those children and young people who may have specific mental health needs.  The PI-ED offers a brief screening measure that will help clinicians identify where a child’s issues lie and enable them to put interventions in place in a much more targeted and cost-efficient way.”

Professor Rory O’Connor of the University of Stirling (pictured), who led the trialling of the PI-ED, said: “Not only is the PI-ED a really useful clinical tool, it is also an invaluable research tool which has been trialled on more than 1100 children and young people in schools and clinical settings.  It is brief, easy to score and should help with research aimed at the early identification of those at risk of developing mental health problems in the future.”

The new measure can be used with both children who have physical health problems – those in paediatric clinics and hospitals – and those within the general population, such as schools. It is incredibly simple to administer and score and enables practitioners to spot where symptoms such as stomach pain, dizziness and a lack of energy are the result of emotional difficulties.  This could allow more appropriate channelling of referrals into mental rather than physical health pathways.

Andrew Thraves, Director of Publishing and Strategy at GL Assessment, said: “Tackling mental health problems in children is crucial to reversing the impact of poor health, poverty, crime and low attainment on their lives and on society as a whole. The PI-ED offers a reliable tool that can help practitioners and others in contact with children every day to achieve this.”

The PI-ED has been piloted extensively by the NHS Ayrshire and Arran and the Universities of Stirling and Nottingham. The resource costs just £80 and can be purchased from


  • The PI-ED has been successfully trialled with over 1100 children aged 7 to 17 in 29 schools across the UK.
  • The diagnostic sensitivity of the PI-ED has been established using a sample of over 100 children and young people who attended a paediatric hospital out-patient department.
  • The PI-ED was developed and trialled by a team of psychologists from NHS Ayrshire & Arran, University of Stirling and University of Nottingham.
  • GL Assessment is a major publisher of clinical and educational assessments and is part of the Granada Learning Group.

Further information: Professor Rory O'Connor

New strategies for older workers

Date released: Friday, 9 July 2010

Recent industrial training policies in the UK have prioritised the vocational training of 'older workers'. This focus reflects population predictions that over the next 25 years an increasing number of older people will be willing, able and in many cases obliged for financial reasons to remain in paid employment after the age when they might have retired.

But how should older workers' learning and development best be supported? Researchers explored the employment of older workers in a range of organisations from Scotland's hospitality sector and visitor attraction centres in a new 18-month study.

Findings indicate that in terms of older workers, workforce development might best be focused on utilising existing skills rather than acquiring new ones.

"In this study we explored the learning strategies of older workers within organisations to identify how government, industry bodies and employers might improve the 'cultures of learning' within enterprises to support the continued development of this important age group," explains Dr Roy Canning of the University of Stirling.

"We found that older workers are generally highly valued employees within organisations, particularly for contributing with their experience as former employees from related enterprises and for their informal support of colleagues," Dr Canning continues.

"They are also generally seen as reliable with excellent customer service skill-sets and a strong work ethic. Moreover, contrary to expectations there appeared to be few conflict-related issues associated with older employees and their usually much younger managers.

“Interestingly, in many cases older workers were very much the sort of people who fit in with what the hospitality industry is looking for. They are flexible and can work seasonal and odd hours for competitive wages, as the post-retirement job often is a supplement for their pension."

Findings further suggest there is no need to try and shape the occupational identity of older workers. A good fit can be achieved by recruitment and selection followed by appropriate training and development. Training and development interventions for older workers should, on the most part, concentrate on team building, skill utilisation within collaborative practice and encouragement of self-directed learning.

"There is a need to prioritise skill utilisation rather than skill acquisition in the case of older workers," Dr Canning points out. "This is about valuing their experience and acknowledging the role older workers can play as informal mentors to younger staff."

The 'revolving door' approach to training, where every employee attends standardised courses in order to comply with basic legislative requirements or company policy, may not always be appropriate to the needs of the more experienced worker. They may benefit from a more customised approach to learning based on the recognition of their prior experience and work roles.

In essence, Dr Canning concludes, this means taking a more learner-centred approach to their training.

ESRC Grant Number: RES-000-22-2506


Dr Roy Canning, University of Stirling

Article first published in the summer 2010 issue of ‘Society Today’, the journal of the ESRC (Economic and Social Research Council).

'Threats and Challenges to World Order in 2010’: Lord Robertson delivers lectureLord Robertson chats to Stirling students

Date released: Monday 19 July 2010

For approximately 200 students at the University of Stirling, today (Monday) provided a lecture with a difference. ‘Threats and Challenges to World Order in 2010’ was definitely a topic to take notes on, particularly since it was delivered by Lord George Robertson of Port Ellen.

As former Secretary of State for Defence, former Secretary General of NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation)  ) and more recently, Co-Chairman of the IPPR’s Commission on National Security in the 21st Century, few individuals are better placed than Lord Robertson to recognise and comment upon the nature of threats to world order. 

His audience, made up of students from the International Summer School (ISS) and the Centre for English Language Teaching (CELT), was equally well placed to understand the ‘interconnectedness’ of nations, as they come from China, Taiwan, Egypt, Thailand, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and the US.

Deputy Principal Professor Grant Jarvie, who introduced the lecture, said: “During his tenure as Secretary of State for Defence and as NATO’s Secretary General, Lord Robertson operated at the epicentre of some of the most potentially explosive and divisive events, both in Europe and the wider world.

“His strategic responses to these challenges have stood the test of time and his ongoing understanding of the real and present dangers to world order has few parallels.  We are very pleased that he has taken the time to share his views with our University students.”

During his time as Secretary of State for Defence, Lord Robertson created the Strategic Defence Review, based on the precept that the nature of war had changed and it was unlikely that Britain’s future wars would be with other nations.

“Instead, conflicts involving us would probably be within nations and failed states – which meant that we would have to get rapidly to the conflict, before it came to us,” he explained then. This defence concept has survived and is now used as a model by other countries, although its effectiveness was first proven during the Kosovo campaign.

His experiences on the world stage have led him to conclude that the sources of threats and challenges are not always obvious or predictable. For example, the actions of strong, competitive states are actually less of an international security threat than those of weak, fragile pariah ones.  Add to this the fact that the global recession is likely to weaken already fragile states and it becomes apparent that less aggressive and confrontational countries may actually prove the source of greatest danger to world order.

Lord Robertson believes that the ongoing effects of climate change, the ever growing-threat of terrorist activity and the potential reach and speed of infections and diseases, all contribute to a new reality which challenges our existing defence mechanisms and traditional responses.

He takes the view that ‘business as usual’ isn’t an option for governments. Instead they have to work smarter and faster, creating flexible, innovative strategies – often involving international co-operation and partnerships with nations which, historically, may not have been regarded as our natural allies. In fact according to Lord Robertson, the biggest threat to our national security going forward is to remain trapped in old ways of thinking and doing.

Lord Robertson’s lecture follows on from the visit of the Rt Hon Jim Murphy MP, now Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland, who discussed the issue of Scottish identity with ISS and CELT students last June.

Picture caption: Lord Robertson chats with some of the students during a post-lecture coffee break.


The search is on for Forth Valley NHS health heroes

Date released: Thursday 29 July 2010

The University’s of Stirling is a sponsor of the Scottish Health Awards 2010. These Awards acknowledge and reward NHS workers and volunteers who have helped to transform lives, cure illnesses, advance services or improve people’s healthcare experience. 

The search is now on to recognise the efforts of Scotland’s best NHS staff and volunteers who may be working in a variety of healthcare settings, from hospitals and dental surgeries to GP practices or in the local community.  And the Awards judges are looking to the public to help identify the nation’s local unsung NHS heroes.

Various award categories have been created, with the aim of celebrating the commitment of loyal staff from across every area of healthcare. The Cancer Care Team Award will be sponsored by the University’s Department of Nursing and Midwifery.

Dr Liz Forbat, co-director of the University’s Cancer Care Research Centre said: “We are delighted to be sponsoring this important award, which reflects our commitment to cancer care in Scotland. The award reflects our aim to improve cancer services, and ensure that people affected by cancer are given the opportunity to contribute to the development of care.”

Most people have a family member or a friend whose life has been touched by cancer, so will be aware of the care and consideration offered to patients by specialist cancer care teams.

This is acknowledged by Nicola Sturgeon, Cabinet Secretary for Health & Wellbeing, who said: “All of us will know someone special who works tirelessly in our NHS to help people across Scotland. These Awards provide us with the opportunity to recognise dedicated and innovative staff, wherever in the health service they work, who go that extra mile every day to provide the very best of healthcare. So I would encourage people to take the chance to nominate that person for an award.”

Anyone wishing to nominate their healthcare hero should visit:  All nominations must be received no later than Monday 6 September 2010. The finalists will be invited to attend an awards ceremony at Edinburgh Corn Exchange on Thursday 11 November. 

Notes to editors:

Stirling celebrates international status with Singapore ceremony

Date released: Friday 30 July 2010

Singapore graduation

The University of Stirling confirmed its reputation as an international education provider when it held its first graduation ceremony in Singapore.

More than 150 friends, family members, Polytechnic and University guests gathered in Nanyang Polytechnic’s Theatre for the Arts, to watch as 57 graduands were awarded their retail degrees.

The graduation represents the success of a partnership between the University of Stirling, the Retail Academy of Singapore and Nanyang Polytechnic (NYP). These were among the first institutions to take part in a national initiative, entitled the Foreign Specialised Institute (FSI), to encourage polytechnics to focus on niche areas by teaming up with overseas institutions.

The collaboration with Stirling began in the mid 2000s when, after a worldwide search and with the backing of the retail industry, the University was invited to partner NYP in offering the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Retail Marketing in Singapore.

In September 2008 the University’s Institute for Retail Studies, headed by Professor Paul Freathy, launched the degree programme, confirming a partnership which reflects Stirling’s international reach in the education sphere. Since then, applications have increased year on year and there are currently more than 100 students studying on the two-year course in Singapore.

Speaking of the programme’s success, Professor Freathy said: "Both the MBA in Retailing and the BA Retail Marketing programmes represent examples of successful international collaboration in the tertiary sector.

“The graduation is the outcome of our successful partnership with Nanyang Polytechnic, with both institutions responding to retail industry demands. It highlights how cross cultural partnerships can work in practice and how Universities can respond to the specific needs of industry."

This unique collaboration has been praised by the Scottish Government. Speaking of the co-operative venture, Mike Russell MSP, the Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for Education & Lifelong Learning said: “The University is a recognised Centre for Excellence for retail education and training and it is this type of collaborative approach to long-term international links which will help ensure the future competitiveness of Scottish Education.

“This innovative partnership has allowed Singaporeans to develop their skills and expertise at home and highlights the high regard in which Scottish education is held around the world.”

The graduation ceremony was a landmark occasion which built on earlier co-operative ventures between Stirling and Singapore. In 1996, the University launched the MBA (Retailing) by distance learning, which it offers in partnership with The Retail Academy of Singapore (TRAS).

A number of those Stirling graduates now occupy senior positions in the retail industry, including Terry O’Connor, CEO of Courts Singapore, who was recently awarded the OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list. Mr O’Connor was a guest speaker at the graduation assembly, addressing the audience on behalf of Singapore’s retailing industry.

The University is proud that its portfolio of retail degree programmes provides a valuable contribution to Singaporean industry, and has helped to overcome the identified shortage of professional junior and middle managers.

Qualified young professionals are needed to support the retail industry now, as well as contributing to the next generation of economic development. The University is proud to play its part in providing the retail skills needed to underpin Singapore’s development as a major tourist and leisure destination and helping to maximise its retail sector potential.

Currently 168 Singapore students are studying with the University and over 80 nationalities are represented on Stirling’s campus, with 19% of our students coming from outside the United Kingdom.

Commenting on Stirling’s growing international status, the University’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Gerry McCormac said: “We will continue to build global partnerships and enhance our reputation as the most innovative University in Scotland through our international collaborations.

“We are at the forefront of research and learning, where high quality programmes produce intellectually able graduates with skills and knowledge relevant to today’s world. These are some of the reasons why the University of Stirling was confirmed as the Sunday Times Scottish University of the Year 2009/10.”

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