THE 100FT TALL CANARY

by Stu Lucy

Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.Continue Reading

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: A REPRESSED SUPERPOWER, PART II

by Sunetra Senior

CW: abuse | Continues from Part I here

Both Analytical and Emotional Intelligence

Mystification: go to work in an office to endorse more of that analytical, grounded thinking.

Hidden Truth: having these two qualities in equal measure means you have constant access to an enviable social clairvoyance that does well in advisory and imaginative professions.

The twin pairing is an attenuated, ongoing version of psychosis which means you can control it and draw from it whenever you want. What’s more you can immediately translate profound ideas to those around you, having one foot in the cosmos and the other in the everyday. That same parental lacking when a person with Border Personality Disorder grew up, made them sharp to environmental clues in order to survive. As this person grows older, they will retain this attentiveness, accumulating little signs and symbols – politically, mathematically and socially –  to equip them to make impressive and perceptive connections and even predict sociological algorithms.

Additionally, you are likely to be excellent in the arts and in critical thinking because you process such a sensitivity to surroundings and are rapidly processing information and images. You can identify intuitive nuances that make great cinema and literature.

The world needs more dedicated artists, sociologists, researchers and socially conscious politicians, not bankers, marketing executives and legal crooks.Continue Reading

BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER: A REPRESSED SUPERPOWER, PART I

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by Sunetra Senior

CW: self-harm, abuse

As a homage to mental health awareness week (14th- 20th May), I have decided to write on an often misunderstood and underrepresented psychological health condition close to my heart, or more accurately my spirit.  Borderline Personality Disorder or BPD is characterised as a ‘behavioural disorder’, which is intrinsic to one’s selfhood, and because of its often abuse-induced origins, has been notoriously difficult to treat. It is not the expected actions or the very true fact that the condition is deeply ingrained that I take issue with, but the medical paradigm of dysfunction and negativity implied by the alliterative last acronym.

This pervasive perceptual context, reflective of the attitude towards many mental health issues, permits an entire trail of prejudice, extending to the defining symptoms of BPD. Common misconceptions are “attention-seeking, manipulative and over-emotional”.  This comes from the high numbers of those with BPD who self-harm, especially during their already tumultuous teenage years, their expressing the need for special care or extra-vigilance and seeming not to be able to cope with the interpersonal and social challenges that everyone else can.

It is time to not only put the record straight, but to add some fucking colour.Continue Reading

EDUCATION AS EMANCIPATION – BEYOND TUITION FEES #7

By Michael Kyriacou

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

The traditional arguments for ‘free education’ focus on reducing the upfront price of university courses to zero. Rather than HE being a commodity to be traded on the open market, it becomes a good paid for by the government. This kind of argument rests on a contradiction: we cannot solve the commodification of HE by continuing to assert the existence of HE as commodity, even a nationalised one. Abolishing tuition fees is undoubtedly a good thing, but to move beyond their legacy we must understand HE as devoid not only of its price but also its status as a commodity. We need to explore the potential for HE grounded not in classification or institution but in the fundamental equality of intelligences – HE without the degree.

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THOUGHTS FROM THE FRONTLINE OF MARKETISATION – BEYOND TUITION FEES #3

By Maddie Colledge, UEA SU Postgraduate Education Officer

It is a time of extraordinary potential for change in UK Higher Education. Labour’s promise to end tuition fees has defied the critics and united many behind Corbyn’s political project. But what will the implications for universities be if this comes to pass? And what can we do to leverage this progress? In this series, the Norwich Radical and Bright Green are bringing together perspectives from across the sector to explore these questions.

CW: Mentions suicide

It’s common for arguments in favour of free education to be dismissed as abstract or utopian, and for students who promote it to be belittled as naïve. I fear that in our attempts to try to portray the significance of free education, we have fallen into a trap where the concept has become so expansive and broad, and the term so overused, that it has lost all meaning. We need to move away from talking about ‘free’ education, and towards articulating a vision more explicitly centred on ‘state-funded’ education or ‘public’ education. For me, the description ‘free’ makes the concept feel distanced from the viable possibility of education funded through public taxation, and does us no favours in making it reality.

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HELPING PEOPLE SEE THE ECONOMY ANEW

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by Justin Reynolds

Why, 10 years after a crisis of capitalism that has entrenched inequalities and insecurity, does the left still struggle to convince a sceptical public that an alternative economics is possible? That question was the focus of one of several intriguing sessions at The Norwich Radical’s recent War of Words conference. A new report by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) attempts to answer it.

Framing the Economy argues that progressives need to spend less time discussing the detail of economic policy and more on telling simple stories about how the economy works that people can understand. The project grew from a recognition that the right has long been better than the left at presenting ‘common sense’ understandings economic mechanisms.Continue Reading

AN OPEN LETTER TO VICE CHANCELLOR DAVID RICHARDSON AND THE UEA EXECUTIVE

We the undersigned are writing to complain about the mistreatment of the university’s staff, and the fact that their mistreatment has led to such a major impact on our education. We wholeheartedly believe that the staff are the greatest asset to the university. The fact that they have been forced to take strike action shines a harsh light on the lack of care UEA’s executive and you, our Vice Chancellor, have for university staff.Continue Reading

MARY SHELLEY’S FRANKENSTEIN AND THE POSSIBILITIES OF ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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by Justin Reynolds

Frankenstein: or The Modern Prometheus, the classic novel by Mary Shelley that stands at the pinnacle of the gothic tradition and looks forward to the new genre of science fiction, was first published 200 years ago this month. Shelley’s visceral tale of the terrible consequences that follow the failure of brilliant young scientist Victor Frankenstein to take responsibility for the strange new life he creates, is both of its time and utterly contemporary.

It can be read as a high Romantic fantasy set against a background of electric storms, shimmering Alpine peaks, Rhineland forests and Arctic wastelands, and as a subtle meditation on themes of knowledge and responsibility that resonate with today’s hopes and fears for the possibilities opened by artificial intelligence (AI) and synthetic biology.Continue Reading

THE FATAL FLAW IN ECONOMICS FUNDING

by REFunding Economics

As the old saying goes, ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’. This week, a coalition of economics students, academics and campaigners gathered to get inside the piper-paying process – the funding of economics research – to create an economics fit for the real world.

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WEEKENDS MATTER – WORK-LIFE BALANCE IN ACADEMIA

by Alex Powell

From the outside, it may appear that students and academics have pretty comfortable lives. We can largely work how and when we want. I frequently lie in past 10am and often come back home after just a 6-hour working day. But despite appearances, this doesn’t mean that we have it super easy. As I am finding more and more, maintaining a good work-life balance can be a real struggle – a struggle that academics and students around the world are all too familiar with.

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SHIFTING THE SPOTLIGHT IN THE VC PAY DEBATE

by Lewis Martin

Throughout the summer the debate around vice chancellor pay has continued to play out. Government and media figures have joined students in their long standing expression of outrage at absurd rates of pay, whilst the VCs themselves have come out to defended their salaries, some with a remarkable lack of self-awareness. Oxford VC Louise Richardson recently joined the fray with this startlingly uncaring remark: “My own salary is £350,000. That’s a very high salary compared to our academics who I think are, junior academics especially, very lowly paid.”

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #3 – WORKING TOWARDS THE FUTURE

by Bradley Allsop & Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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THE RIGHT ARE RUNNING SCARED – A RESPONSE TO TOM WELSH

by Lewis Martin

In the midst of right-wing confusion about Jeremy Corbyn’s continuing support amongst the young, following a supposed u-turn on his flagship policy to scrap student debt, Tom Welsh of the Telegraph has unveiled a new thesis: the left will continue its resurgence so long as too many go to university*. His argument is as ridiculous as the title makes it sound, and his article is full of claims that are absurd, patronising and completely unsupported.

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IGNITING STUDENT ACTIVISM #1 – FIRST STEPS

by Bradley Allsop and Calum Watt

Rarely in our lifetimes has there been a more exciting time for young people to engage in politics. Change is in the air and nowhere else offers more opportunities to engage in this conversation, to learn valuable skills and to help shape society than university campuses. This series of articles seeks to offer some guidance for those aiming to ignite student activism at their institutions. Drawing on our experiences as campaigners we hope to highlight some common challenges and give you some advice on how to combat them.

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WHY THE TORIES DON’T CARE ABOUT NURSES

by Lewis Martin

CW: death, disease, corpses.

Last week we heard that the number of people applying to become nursing students has fallen by 19% in the past year. As this is the first application cycle since government cuts to NHS bursaries, for many this will not be much of a shock. It’s clear that the government’s decision to take away this provision that allowed many students to attend their courses will have serious detrimental effects, not only for the institutions that train nurses but for the NHS as a whole.

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SHAKING UP HIGHER ED – TEF’S SILVER LINING

By Alex Powell

Late last month, we saw the release of the first batch of Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results. The TEF has been the subject of significant student opposition, with a Save the Student survey suggesting that as many as 76% of students oppose the implementation of the TEF. I was an opponent of it myself, particularly of links made between TEF scores and the ability of institutions to raise their tuition fees, though this plan has been postponed until 2020.

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DIRTY MONEY – HOW ETHICAL ARE OUR UNIVERSITIES’ INVESTMENTS?

by Laura Potts

Each university is different from one another. Moreover, they are very different from most other institutions of all types. On one hand they are educational institutions; on the other they are businesses. As businesses they make investments, though this is not something we would usually think of as a priority of educators. It is worth taking the time to investigate what your university is truly involved with and if their investments are ethical, not only for moral peace of mind but also to have a clearer idea of what your tuition fees are being put toward.

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THE UK POSTGRADUATE STUDY CRISIS MUST END

by Bradley Allsop

Postgraduate study and research is a vital part of the higher education sector and yet in the UK it is in crisis, riddled with multiple, endemic problems.

Firstly, there are systemic problems with postgraduate study in terms of who even gets through the door. Research has shown that, graduates who are women, from certain ethnic minority groups or from lower socio-economic backgrounds are less likely to go on to study at postgraduate level. This is a social injustice in itself, and raises serious questions about the cultures and systems that exist within both academia and society more generally, but it is also to the detriment of academia: academia thrives on diversity.Continue Reading

FROM UNDERSTANDING TO INTERVENTION – UEA’S NEW MODULE IN ACTIVIST CAMPAIGNING

by Rowan Gavin

I was recently excited to hear of a new module being run in the Politics department at UEA next academic year entitled ‘Activist Campaigning’. Module convenor Dr Ben Little was good enough to let me interview him about the course, its history, and his hopes for its future at UEA.

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A CALL FOR THE DEMOCRATISATION OF POSTGRADUATE EDUCATION

By Alex Powell

New postgraduate loans have made extended higher education more accessible. While the situation is far from perfect, and access to further higher education remains restricted for many, new possibilities have been opened up. However, if students are to make the best of these opportunities, they need guidance.

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QUICKER ISN’T BETTER – PROFIT BEFORE HEALTH IN TWO YEAR DEGREES

By Lewis Martin

Last week the government announced plans to allow students to complete an undergraduate degree within two years instead of the usual three. To facilitate this fast-track system, universities will be permitted to charge £13,000 a year in tuition fees for these courses. As many have already noted, it’s easy to see what this announcement really is: another step in the marketisation of higher education. UCU general secretary Sally Hunt described it as ‘another misguided attempt to allow for-profit colleges access to UK higher education.’ The government have become less and less tactless when it comes to putting profit before the education of students.

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A GREEN REVOLUTION?

by Gunnar Eigener

The election of Donald Trump and the result of the Brexit referendum have thrown the prospect of a greener future into doubt. Trump’s threat to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement and promise to boost the ailing US coal industry overshadow the current surge in renewable energy. The UK government’s decision to sell the Green Investment Bank (GIB) has been attacked amid fears of asset-stripping.

Social media is full of individuals and climate groups recoiling in horror at the potential of such actions pushing back the advancement of environmental progress. Many are counting down the days until Trump’s inauguration and the eradication of environmental regulations that is predicted to follow. Yet is the future really as bleak as many would have us believe?Continue Reading

WHY I TEACH (THE HUMANITIES)

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by Alex Valente

This is not another defence of the Humanities as a subject worthy of study, funding, support.
This is not a defence of creative writing as a subject worthy of teaching, practising, support.
This is not a way to convince myself that teaching English Literature at a higher education institution in the UK is a career worth pursuing. Though maybe it is, maybe it is all of those.
This is not, in any way, a researched piece. The editors have allowed me to voice my thoughts on the matter because I wanted to say something about it.

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CAN SCIENCE BE RADICAL?

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by Ella Gilbert

One of the most fundamental rules of science that any student will learn is the importance of objective thought. The strength of scientific observation lies in the ability to weigh up evidence without assuming pre-defined outcomes, while investigating all possible hypotheses with equal exactitude. The triumvirate of ‘reliability, accuracy and precision’ are concepts drilled into students throughout their education, and the importance of withholding judgment until conclusions can reliably be drawn is underlined in experimentation and practice. Indeed, the process of science in itself is about careful, reasoned consideration of the available evidence, rigorous data analysis and logical extrapolation and conclusion. Science’s strength lies in its claims to objectivity – it wouldn’t work without it. Any deviation from these well-defined parameters and rules constitute ‘bad science’, tainted with opinion, ideology or personal belief. So, in this context, can science be radical? Or should it?Continue Reading