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News for Durham University Staff & Students

May | Jun 2018


Discovering how humans can see with sound

STAFF SURVEY Yearly review


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Welcome to a new issue of Dialogue. As reflected in this edition, it has been another busy period for our University community. We have recently held our first community engagement event to help bring together the City and University. I am thankful to the 250 residents, business leaders, staff and students who attended this productive event.

I am delighted that the University recently ranked 6th in the UK in the 2019 Complete University Guide, cementing its place as one of the country’s leading universities. In addition, our English Department and the Music Department are ranked first for their subject. Well done to all of our staff for making this happen. As a University we are committed to improving the environment through our research and our actions. You can read more here about our decision to divest from companies involved in fossil fuel extraction. I am also pleased that we have become the first university in the North of England


– and the second in the UK – to join a new campaign aimed at reducing plastic waste. The implementation of our Estate Strategy is continuing, with recent consultations on plans to build a new home for our Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science departments at Upper Mountjoy and to improve pedestrian and road user movement around the University. Finally, the Durham Festival of the Arts returns for its fourth year this summer organised by Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre. Featuring concerts, masterclasses, plays and photography exhibitions, there is something for everyone to enjoy.




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With all best wishes

Professor Stuart Corbridge Vice-Chancellor and Warden

Please continue to send your contributions and feedback to News for Durham University Staff & Students


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Editor Ulrike Klaerig-Jackson Communications Co-ordinator Contributors Harriet Williamson, HR&OD; Yvonne Flynn, Greenspace; Daryl Dowding, Museums and Attractions; Claire Hall, Karen Frost, Nicky Sawicki, Mark Tallentire, Eugene Grant and Charlie Collins, Marketing & Communications; Jordan Christie, CIS; Isabelle Culkin, Student Theatre; Alison Darley, HR& OD; Elias Koenig, Marketing & Communications Cover image Stephen G. Willis, Professor of Ecology & Conservation, Department of Biosciences


May | Jun 2018















Durham University and Durham University logo are registered Trade Marks of the University of Durham. Unless otherwise stated, all material in this publication is copyright of the University of Durham. The University makes every effort to ensure that the information contained here is accurate. Please note that the University’s website is the most up to date source of information and we strongly recommend that you always visit the website before making any commitments.




Our favourite posts, tweets and videos over the past two months to show you what has been happening around the University!



Fashion meets fundraising as @durhamucfs raise over £106,000 for mental health charity @MindCharity with their stylish show #DUmakeithappen Find out how they did it

Our Physics Department have produced some fantastic videos in honour of #IWD18 What better way to celebrate Women in Physics than with some videos made by women in Physics - check out the full videos on their Instagram page: http://fal. cn/4NQf

We have decided to #divest from companies involved in #fossilfuels extraction, and have committed to becoming a major international partner in the development of green energy. @durhamSU @DurhamSUpres @peopleandplanet

We're delighted to announce plans for a £2.4 million redevelopment of one #Durham's historic and much-loved theatres – the @Assembly_ Rooms_! Read more:

Congrats to all Durham staff who have been chosen to sit on the #REF2021 panels! #researchexcellence @REF_2021 @DurhamLawSchool @DUSofE @ DurBiol @DurhamGeography @ ArcDurham @AnthDurham1 @ Sgia_DurhamUni @Durham_ Classics @DurhamPsych Read more:




Our latest University-wide research video, showcasing the breadth of academic endeavour at Durham. com/watch?v=blgSNZKrlX8&t=172s

WINTER WONDERLAND The start of several days of beautiful snowy scenes (well done to everyone who kept core services running during the difficult weather conditions). https://www.instagram. com/p/BfshQq9A7kK/?taken-by=durhamuniversity






News for Durham University Staff & Students


Growing together – helping our City and University thrive The University is rooted in its local communities, and wants to grow in a way that is of benefit to all who live, work, and study in Durham. We are committed to growth in order to remain competitive in the global higher education sector and ensure our long-term financial sustainability. But we also want to be a good neighbour – an ambitious University that is part of an ambitious City. Community engagement event We recently held a productive first community engagement event, at the Radisson Blu Hotel, Durham City, on Thursday 12 April. The event was postponed from Friday 2 March due to heavy snow. But this delay allowed the University to take on board feedback that a larger venue would be required, a later start time would be preferable, and to avoid Friday evenings. We also made more time available for round-table discussions.

Positive steps

The event was attended by around 250 residents, business leaders, staff, students and others, and we are thankful to all who came along.

In advance of the event, the University announced it would be: establishing a Community Relations Task Force and recruiting a full-time Community Liaison Officer to work with its neighbours; matchfunding, with Durham Constabulary, a uniformed police presence in term time; and continuing to part-fund, with Durham County Council, a Neighbourhood Warden for Durham City.

The event began with presentations from Professor Stuart Corbridge, Vice-Chancellor of Durham University; Ian Thompson, Corporate Director of Regeneration and Local Services at Durham County Council; and Assistant Chief Constable Dave Orford, of Durham Constabulary.

In addition, the University is making it easier for local residents and partners to get in touch. New Community web pages have been created at, which feature updates on the University’s plans, local information, and contact details.

Additionally, a speech was read on behalf of Dr Roberta BlackmanWoods, City of Durham MP, who was unable to attend due to family circumstances.

Ongoing dialogue

There were then group discussions, focused on exploring the key opportunities and challenges of our University Strategy for the City, after which the outcomes of these round-table sessions were shared.

Jane Robinson, the University’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “ We acknowledge we have more to do in this area and would encourage anyone with an interest in the future of Durham, whether they were able to attend the event or not, to share their comments and suggestions with us.

An online feedback form has been set up for comments and suggestions, at

“We will reflect carefully on all the feedback we receive, and share it so that we can involve residents and partners as we develop our plans.” Details of the next event will be announced in due course.

Visit our Community web pages to view videos of the speeches or download the Vice-Chancellor’s presentation May | Jun 2018



PhD student Josefina Castillo-Serrano (L) and Dr Lore Thaler making recordings of echolocation mouth clicks Credit: Société Radio-Canada and Lore Thaler

Discovering how humans can see with sound Human echolocation enables people to ‘see’ with their ears and build a picture of the world around them. This is particularly useful for people who are blind or visually impaired. The technique involves making sharp mouth clicks and then translating the sound reflected by surrounding objects into spatial information – a method also used by whales, dolphins, and bats. What drew you to study human echolocation?

Dr Lore Thaler is Associate Professor in the Psychology Department and a leading researcher in the field of human echolocation. We caught up with her to find out more about her work.


Back in 2009 I was a postdoctoral student at Western University in Ontario, Canada, where I was researching visual perception. My adviser suggested I look at Human Echolocation, which was something I had never heard of. I found some YouTube videos of Daniel Kish, an American expert in human echolocation and the President of World Access for the Blind, and it was amazing. I wanted to get a better understanding of this

technique so we made contact with Daniel. Our first project involved neuroimaging of human echolocation and our first paper was published in 2011. I moved to Durham not long after this and one of the first things I set out to do was create facilities that would enable me to continue my research. What did this entail? Part of my research requires a space that is acoustically sound-proof and

News for Durham University Staff & Students


We will teach the technique to people, both sighted and blind, who are completely new to echolocation and follow them over a period of time to observe how their brains change.

What has your research revealed? Workshop participants using echolocation to navigate around Lower Mountjoy

Daniel Kish demonstrating echolocation techniques at Durham University echo-absorbent. This is needed so that when we measure or work with sound and echoes, we have no interference from external noise or from echoes from the room itself. Initially I improvised by installing a garden gazebo in a regular room, which I covered with lots and lots of fleecy blankets because fleece absorbs sound. It took me three years but I now have a facility which has a heavy steel door and extra thick walls lined with foam - a sounddampening material - which means the space is acoustically well-controlled. I also have equipment suitable to record relevant sound at high quality, for example a

May | Jun 2018

number of tiny microphones and calibration equipment, some of which I purchased after winning a Dragon’s Den type event put on by the Biophysical Sciences Institute. The room is used to record and measure mouth-clicks and echoes produced by expert echolocators or loudspeakers in the context of various tasks. We analyse the recordings and also use them in brain imaging experiments which we run at the James Cook Hospital in Middlesbrough. Durham University has an MR scanner there, which captures 3D images of the brain. I use it to measure the brain activity of participants as they listen to the recordings of echolocation scenes and sounds.

We now know that echolocators have adapted visual parts of their brain to process sound echoes. We also have a much better understanding of the abilities of expert echolocators and how they fine-tune their techniques. For example, we thought that the acoustic properties of mouth-clicks would vary between echolocators, but the noises they produce are very similar. We’ve recently identified the extent to which echolocators adjust their clicks in response to variations in their surroundings - for example louder clicks allow echolocators to ‘see’ behind them. We have used this information to develop effective methods for teaching echolocation and over the summer we will be running training courses for visual impairment mobility specialists and their clients. What else do you hope your research will demonstrate? I’m keen to see how learning echolocation can change the brain. We have observed changes in the brains of expert echolocators, which are consistent with our understanding that the brain is an organ that reorganises itself. We will teach the technique to people, both sighted and blind, who are completely new to echolocation and follow them over a period of time to observe how their brains change. We want to know if learning echolocation actually leads to the changes we have observed in the brains of expert echolocators.



Divestment decision coupled with commitment to green energy development

“The decision to divest from companies involved in fossil fuel extraction is an important one for the University. “It has been taken following full consultation, and I would like to thank all staff, students and alumni who shared their views on this issue. “Durham is a world top 100 university, a research partner of international standing and a significant employer in North East England. We are committed not only to divestment, but to becoming a major partner in the future development of green energy. “The University is proud to be home to the Durham Energy Institute, which is already a leading centre for energy research, and we look forward to building on this work in future.” Megan Croll, President of Durham Students’ Union, said: “I’m delighted that student ambitions for a fossil-fuel-free investment policy at Durham University have been realised. “This success shows the power that students and staff, working together, have to make our community more progressive and responsible. I’d like to pay tribute to the student leaders that have put considerable effort into this work, notably the Durham SU People and Planet Society.” What it means

The University has committed itself to becoming a major international partner in the development of green energy, as it looks to divest its financial investments from companies involved in fossil fuel extraction. The decisions were taken by the University’s governing Council in March. It follows a year-long Commission on Divestment from Companies Involved in Fossil Fuel Extraction, which reviewed divestment options and the impact divestment would have on the University’s finances and its ability to fulfil its charitable and strategic objectives. Full consultation The Commission was established following a proposal from Durham Students’ Union that the University withdraw its investments from, and cease to invest in,


companies involved in fossil fuel extraction. The Commission included student and staff members. The Commission reached its recommendation – that the University should divest as soon as practicable – following full consultation with staff, students and alumni. Four out of every five respondents to this consultation supported divestment. Important decision Professor David Cowling, the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Arts and Humanities), who led the Commission, said:

The decision to divest means that the University will look to end its investments in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction that are currently part of its overall investment portfolio. These currently total less than £1.5 million. It also means in the event of the University finding itself in the position of having such an investment, for example as part of a bequest, its policy would be to sell this as quickly as is practicable. The University has committed to carrying the ideals of divestment into wider delivery of the University Strategy by strengthening Greenspace policy and delivery and embedding green energy issues into our research and education strategies. It remains committed to the important partnerships it has with a number of energy companies, and committed to research which relates to the efficient exploitation of petroleum and assists in the decarbonisation of the petroleum industry and its products. For more information, please visit:

News for Durham University Staff & Students


REDUCING OUR IMPACT ON THE ENVIRONMENT Durham University has become the first university in the North of England – and the second in the UK – to join a new campaign aimed at reducing plastic waste. As part of the ‘Refill’ campaign, staff, students, and members of the public can fill up their plastic water bottles at 11 of the University’s public cafés across its sites in Durham City and Queen’s Campus, Stockton. The aim of the new scheme – spearheaded by Northumbrian Water – is to cut the use of plastic bottles on the University’s campuses. Protecting our natural environment Chief Operating Officer, Jane Robinson, said: “We all have a part to play in protecting and enhancing our natural environment for future generations. “Signing up to the Refill campaign helps transform our commitment to improving environmental sustainability from words into meaningful actions. We hope others will do the same and support this fantastic initiative.”

Northumbrian Water to encourage more than 250 businesses in the North East of England to sign up to the Refill scheme. Find out more Live in North East England? Find out where you can fill up your water bottle: look out for window stickers in participating businesses or download the Refill app via All 11 of the University’s public cafés are taking part in the Refill scheme. Staff, students, and members of the public are able to come in and top up their water bottles at the following sites on Durham University’s City and Stockton Campuses: • Library Café • Calman Café • Palatine Centre Restaurant

President of Durham Students’ Union, Megan Croll, said: “This year Durham Students’ Union has shown commitment to reduce single use plastics. For example, we no longer put straws into drinks served at our bars, and we are looking to provide reusable, rather than single use cups, in our café.

• Chemistry Café

“We enthusiastically welcome the opportunity to be part of this campaign and we hope that students across Durham will engage with this to help to protect our environment.”

• Café on the Green

Not-for-profit organisation City to Sea has been working with

• Waterside Café (Queen’s Campus, Stockton)

May | Jun 2018

• Botanic Garden Visitor Centre • Oriental Museum • Fusion Restaurant – Durham University Business School • Palace Green Library • Maiden Castle Café



Queen’s Campus Transition As term progresses and we approach the end of the 2017/18 academic year, plans are moving ahead for the 2018 phase of the Queen’s Campus transition.

This has been demanding – and there will be some disruption as we manage the relocation over the summer and into the new academic year – but right across the University people have been making things happen and supporting their colleagues. We would ask all staff and students to be as flexible and accommodating as possible during this transition period, and to give staff and students relocating a warm Durham welcome.

This final phase will begin in earnest next month, with events to celebrate all that has been achieved in 25 years of programmes at Queen’s Campus, and moves taking place throughout the Summer.

This programme is essential to help us deliver across all three core objectives of our University Strategy and to create a University that is better defined thematically and geographically, and more globally visible.

Further details on the schedule for the next few months are in the graphic below.

Academic strategies Work is also progressing on the four elements of the Academic Strategy: Research and Engagement, Education, Wider Student Experience and Internationalisation.

Research and Engagement Our commitment is to high quality, curiosity-driven research and academic freedom. We have world-leading research outputs across all of our Faculties, but we want to do even better.

The amount of planning that has taken place right across the University community, both staff and student representatives, has been enormous – with new facilities in development, support in place for staff and students making the move, and our International Study Centre soon to complete its first year.


We have already delivered extra PhD and postdoctoral funding, enhanced conference and travel support, and a new research incentive scheme. The quality of our research, and the excellent support offered by our refocussed Research and Innovation Services, is reflected in our improved performance in research income: as of February 1, research awards for the current year totalled £26.2 million – up £6.2 million on the same point last year. Our next steps include a working group to look at enterprise-related aspects of the Strategy, and another on the future of the University’s Research Institutes. Our REF Strategy Committee is leading on preparations for REF2021.

News for Durham University Staff & Students

Durham University Strategy 2017-2027

Education We have a strong track record in Education, which gives us an excellent foundation for delivering truly innovative pedagogy. Construction of our new Centre for Teaching and Learning is well underway, and the building and facilities are important – but in so far as they support the activity that takes place inside. We are really excited about the opportunities offered by the new Durham Centre for Academic Development, which will include a learning lab for testing new teaching methods and technologies, a centre for professional development and a hub where students can develop their study skills, English composition and maths. We are also looking to make a step-change in our widening participation activity to ensure that we can attract the very best students, whatever their background, and that they can thrive at Durham. Our new student recruitment and admissions system will support this, alongside the expansion of the Supported Progression scheme, and making guaranteed offers to qualified students from under-represented groups. We are committed to ‘Durham For All’: ensuring that all admitted students should be able to attend, participate in and excel at the full range of opportunities available here, regardless of background or financial means. We hope to build a new approach to needs-based scholarships, with philanthropic support.

Internationalisation Durham is a world-leading university but we know there is more we can do to ensure we remain a player on the global stage. We are already making progress: reaching agreement for 15 Chinese Scholarship Council PhD scholars per year to study in Durham and continuing our work with the Palace Museum in Beijing. The internationalisation of the student body is progressing, both through strong recruitment to the ISC and a significant increase in international applications for this year. We are also considering options for new bases in London and overseas. Staff and students can keep up to date on how the University Strategy is being delivered at

Wider Student Experience

Other estate projects

A business case for our flagship Durham Award has been approved. The Award will ensure that our students receive foundational instruction in critical thinking and then build ‘stackable credentials’ across a portfolio of activities.

We recently consulted on plans to build a new home for our Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science departments at Upper Mountjoy, and to improve pedestrian and road user movement around the University – including through the provision of a new and upgraded path to the east of South Road. We hope to submit planning applications for these projects shortly.

Alongside this, the Colleges and Student Experience Division has been reorganised to better meet our strategic goals and a new WSE committee is up and running. We also have a number of estates-related projects underway, including preparations to form a new 17th college based at Mount Oswald and a £2.4 million refurbishment of the Assembly Rooms theatre, which will begin in August.

May | Jun 2018

Get the latest on our estate developments at



The Times They Are a - Changin'

University Carbon Report 2016/17 The University has produced its first Carbon Report which provides high level performance-related information on the University's carbon emissions. Durham University aims to be environmentally responsible. We work to reduce our environmental footprint through responsible energy, water, travel and waste management. We ensure that our buildings are constructed and maintained to high environmental standards, that investment is made in energy efficiency where appropriate and that renewable energy is used wherever possible. A copy of the Report can be found at

The University has a long heritage; established in 1832, it has survived many changing times. However, a much older but often overlooked component of the University estate is the habitats that it supports and protects. Durham is probably one of the greenest and most biodiverse UK universities. Yet this diversity of wildlife, despite decades of research on site, remains a poorly understood and undervalued asset. It is one of the things that makes the University a particularly pleasant environment in which to work and study. How many other UK universities can boast glorious bluebellladen woodland walks right on the doorstep of most departments and colleges? The University woodlands are largely remnants of the ancient wildwood that cloaked much of the UK 6,000 years ago. In these remnant woods, large mammals such as badgers, roe deer and foxes thrive, though the likes of brown bear and wolves are now long gone. The University grounds also support many other less obvious, but much more endangered, species. The remnant green space around Durham provides a rare last stand for many species threatened by development elsewhere. In the current period of University expansion, it is important not to lose sight of this fabulous asset we have under our stewardship. For this reason, the University has recently signed up to an Environmental Sustainability Action Plan, in which we will strive to have no net loss of biodiversity across the site going forward. Species on the University estate include at least four species of orchid, more than 20 butterfly species, more than 100 bird species, around 20 mammal species and a host of other protected and declining species.

Green Move Out Scheme Summer 2018 Students living in our Colleges and more than 50 streets in Durham City will again be encouraged to donate their unwanted reusable items this summer via distributed Green Move Out bags. The annual Green Move Out Scheme is a partnership between Durham University, Durham County Council, Durham Constabulary and County Durham Furniture Help Scheme (CDFHS) which aims to reduce waste and to support local charities. Full details are available at

Over time, changes in the species occurring at any site is inevitable; the challenge is to protect the most imperilled species whilst also encouraging new colonists. In recent years, particularly as a result of climate change, a swathe of new colonists have arrived on the University estate, as well as first records for species that have probably hung on in the region for millennia. First sightings of butterflies such as Speckled Wood and Comma – both of which have turned up for the first time in the last couple of decades - are almost certainly a result of the warming climate. By contrast, the native red squirrel went extinct, replaced by the invasive grey squirrel in the University woods in the mid 1990s. Some species have probably been continually present but remained undetected until recently. For example, two elusive butterflies that typically spend most of their life in the canopy of oak and elm respectively, the Purple Hairstreak and White-Letter Hairstreak, were first recorded only in recent years. The latter was first recorded on the castle lawn during the wedding reception of a member of the biology department. 2018 already looks to be another year of new records. Durham is probably the last area of the UK yet to be recolonized by buzzards, which are recolonising former haunts following centuries of


News for Durham University Staff & Students


A flower-rich meadow including common-spotted and marsh orchids

Comma - a new colonist to the region in the last 20 years persecution. Their advance into the lowlands of County Durham across the Pennines, Northumberland and the Yorkshire Moors and Dales has been exceptionally slow. Despite having lots of suitable woodland habitat, and plenty of prey for buzzards to eat, the University woodlands have remained buzzard-free – until now. This year, buzzards have been seen displaying and perched in the University woods – probably the first records of breeding season buzzards in Durham in 150 years. It also looks promising that we’ll have the first documented breeding of Tree Sparrows – a much rarer cousin of the commoner House Sparrow – on University land in 2018, as a pair have taken to one of the artificial nest boxes around the site. This is especially good news as Tree Sparrows are red-listed, having declined by about 95% since the 1970s. Another first for 2018 is a record of a rare plant species for County Durham, the Greater Tussock Sedge. Looking more like something from the Jurassic period forest than from contemporary woodland, a single plant was found earlier this year in an area of wet woodland, probably the remnants of a formerly larger population. The challenge facing Greenspace over the next year or two is to document the wildlife heritage that we have, and to ensure that we continue to protect all of this wildlife during the period of future expansion. We have pledged to ensure no net loss in biodiversity, which will be challenging, and will probably require some inventive management and planning. Greenspace, and Estates and Buildings, plan to work together closely to ensure that our wildlife asset remains protected for years to come.

Barn Owl - a rare breeder on the University Estate

Nocturnal camera images of an otter that has successfully raised young ones

Tree Sparrow - a potential new colonist in 2018

Grey Squirrel - colonised University woodlands around 1996

Every small step leads to big change May | Jun 2018



WALKING WITH THE BUDDHA The Fo Guang Shan Buddha Museum in Taiwan attracts up to 10 million visitors each year. This summer visitors from around the globe will be able to experience ‘Walking with the Buddha: discovering the natal landscape of the Buddha’, a research-led exhibition created by a team drawn from Durham University’s UNESCO Chair of Archaeological Ethics and the Oriental Museum. The exhibition, which will open in May, explores the results of Durham-led excavations at Lumbini, the birthplace of the Buddha in Nepal, and other important Buddhist sites in the region. Aimed at a general audience, the exhibition will showcase 3D-printed reconstructions of the earliest temples at Lumbini alongside ancient Buddhist sculptures and historic photographic images from the Oriental Museum’s collections. The exhibition will be accompanied both by an international academic conference and by two specialist publications.

The Buddha Museum lit up for Lunar New Year celebrations

BODIES OF EVIDENCE: HOW SCIENCE UNEARTHED DURHAM’S DARK SECRET 9 June – 7 October 2018 Find out how Durham University archaeologists pieced together evidence to establish the identity of 17th century Scottish soldiers whose remains were unearthed in two mass burial sites in Durham. The skeletons were found to be those of Scottish soldiers who lived and died more than 300 years ago and the exhibition includes a reconstruction of the face of one of the men who was imprisoned and died in Durham following the Battle of Dunbar in 1650. Bodies of Evidence brings together material from collections across the UK and beyond and shows how the latest scientific techniques have revealed more about the soldiers’ story – how they lived, why they died, and what became of those who survived. A programme of talks and events will accompany the exhibition. Full details are listed on the Palace Green Library website:

You can find out more about the Scottish Soldiers research project at:


News for Durham University Staff & Students



Team, the Working Group will continue to drive forward engagement in the department by ensuring that the action plan is embedded and communicated to colleagues, and take responsibility for key actions. For further information please see staffsurvey2017 Job Families for Professional Service Roles and Development Approaches.

Trussell Trust Foodbanks – Staff Volunteering Regional Foodbanks, such as the distribution centre in Chester-le-Street always need help from volunteers to sort and arrange donations, pack orders, and put together emergency food boxes. Teams have greatly enjoyed this kind of work, which lends itself to small groups and is not weather reliant (although warehouses can still be cold in winter). HR colleagues volunteered as part of the Staff Volunteer project to attend the Trussell Trust Regional Foodbank distribution centre at Chester-leStreet to help the team of volunteers to load and unload supplies ready for onward distribution to various local foodbanks. Prior to attending, the team in HR organised a collection of food products and Christmas gifts to donate to the foodbank. Astonishingly, they collected over 100kg of supplies! As part of International Women’s day – the University took part in a Tampon and Towel drive to raise awareness of period poverty in the North East. Across the University there were 18,756 sanitary products donated.

The HR department is currently in discussion with Trade Unions about piloting the Job Family Framework for professional service roles within a number of departments over the summer of 2018. This will enable the University to fine-tune the approach and implementation support prior to the wider roll out starting later in the year. Colleagues from across the institution, who have been actively involved in the development of the job family approach to date, and who offered to participate in Work Based Challenge groups, will also be involved in further work over the summer. They will help to identify new training and development approaches to support the career pathway opportunities and further development options that will be introduced with Job Families. For more details please see jobfamilies Durham University Day Nursery The nursery is very proud and excited about their new development. They have been working hard in developing the outdoor space and have created a fantastic mud kitchen. The Children love the new space and it provides them with a wide range of learning opportunities. A mud kitchen opens up a world of creativity, helping them develop the ability to problem solve and enhance their personal, social and emotional skills. It provides opportunities to develop fine and gross motor skills, maintain focus and think critically for themselves.

The University has some wonderful volunteering opportunities for details please see

Children demonstrate a wonderful imagination by using mud, porridge oats, pasta, leaves and sticks as they enjoy making mud pies, soup, perfume and lots of delicious cakes to share with the staff and their friends.

2017 Staff Survey

Mother’s Day - Stay and Play March 2018

Following the 2017 Staff Survey all departments are working on their response to the results. The HR department has developed an Engagement Working Group to participate in, and take ownership for, local action planning. The Working Group is made up of representatives from each team within the department, to ensure that the needs of every team are considered and positive action is taken in response to the feedback received through the Staff Survey.

At Durham University Day Nursery it is felt that the parents are as important as the children. The nursery aims to ensure that parents feel included and they are encouraged to participate in events as they have an important role to play in their child’s nursery life.

The Working Group has met regularly to share thoughts and ideas, and develop a detailed action plan which aims to address five key areas: • communication • staff recognition • staff development • work-life balance, and • resourcing. After approval of the local action plan by the HR Senior Management

May | Jun 2018

Parents are invited into nursery as often as possible and the staff take great pride in providing them with opportunities such as the ‘Stay and Play’ sessions. The recent Mother’s Day ‘Stay and Play’ provided parents with the perfect opportunity to join in with their children’s daily activities. A ‘Stay and Play’ session provides a lovely social time for parents, not only to spend time catching up with the staff and other parents but to spend valuable time with their children, exploring various activities including creative opportunities, song and rhyme time, sensory time and outdoor play. For further information on the Durham University Day Nursery please visit



Start your adventure with Durham Festival of the Arts

Durham Festival of the Arts (DFoA) returns for its fourth year this summer, and the 2018 festival is set to be the biggest one yet. The festival, organised by Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre, features a whole host of events from concerts to masterclasses, plays to photography exhibitions and so much more, in a number of venues across the City. DFoA is for all of Durham to enjoy; with plenty of opportunities to get involved for students and the local community alike. Spanning Friday, 1 June to Monday, 25 June 2018, there is sure to be something for everyone at this year’s festival.

Our biggest theatrical festival ventures include the return of Hild Bede Theatre’s raucous comedy 5 Lesbians Eating a Quiche. Following critical acclaim in its original run, the production will return for one night only to the Gala Theatre on Tuesday, 5 June. It’s sure to be a real treat. The Assembly Rooms Theatre will also host crowd-favourites including H.M.S Pinafore, Legally Blonde and a staged production of the hugely successful sitcom The IT Crowd. The Black Box series returns this year to the Vane Tempest at Durham Students' Union. The Black Box series is dedicated to showcasing contemporary and experimental theatre in an intimate, black box theatre space. The series is full of exciting student writing as well as an open mic night for performance of all kinds. In terms of music highlights, there really is something to suit every taste. The Festival will officially open on Friday, 1 June with Beyond the Realms, Music Durham’s annual concert in the magnificent Durham Cathedral featuring some of the best student music Durham has to offer. From symphony orchestras to big bands and acappella choirs, this is an evening of music based on fantasy and imagination. For the second time, Music Durham will host a


partner concert too in Durham Castle, entitled Earth Bound with music representing the natural world in all its beauty. This evening will begin with a drinks reception in the beautiful Castle Quad. In venues around the City there will be concerts from wind quintets, orchestras, barbershop groups, concert bands, brass bands, and more. As well as concerts there are a number of masterclasses in brass, voice, gamelan, organ, and jazz that are open to any member of the public to attend. For a relaxed day of music, food, and family activities join us on Saturday, 9 June from 10am-4pm for Arts on the Green – bring a picnic and all the family! For those who love the visual arts, we have a three-day photography exhibition taking place in the Pemberton buildings, following the success of its debut at the festival last year.

This however doesn’t even scratch the surface of everything happening under DFoA this year, so for more information and to see our entire calendar of events, visit!

News for Durham University Staff & Students


“When given the chance to get involved as a coach, I jumped at it. I am pleased to be giving something back. Hopefully I can help younger women, both in their personal and sporting lives.” The JHPA offers young people aged 15 to 18 with rowing abilities a six-week training programme. In the one-hour, weekly sessions, participants learn about strength and conditioning, psychology and health. Supporting schools Julie Shaw, a coach at St Leonard’s Catholic School, Durham City, said: “The St Leonard’s pupils found the sessions very interesting and productive. I learnt a lot and valued being able to be with our pupils during the sessions. “The students that ran the groups were great fun but took their coaching seriously. “I really appreciated that an athlete of Lauren’s calibre takes the time and trouble to foster and encourage up-and-coming talent and it certainly gave our team a boost!. Olympic ambitions Lauren, a former pupil of St Bede’s Catholic School, Peterlee, County Durham, is hoping to be part of the Team GB squad for the 2018 World Rowing Under 23 Championships in Poland in July.

OLYMPIC HOPE TURNS COACH AND MENTOR FOR YOUNGER ROWERS A Durham University rowing star is helping coach and mentor young people hoping to follow in her footsteps. Lauren Irwin, who has represented Team GB at the world and European under-23 rowing championships, is now supporting teenagers in North East England to develop their rowing skills, while also helping them manage the other pressures of their teenage years. Lauren, from Peterlee, County Durham, twice benefitted from Durham University’s Junior High Performance Academy (JHPA) while she was studying at Durham Sixth Form Centre. She has gone on to help Team GB claim the bronze medal in the 2017 European Rowing Under 23 Championships and sixth place in the 2017 World Rowing Under 23 Championships. Now a Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity second-year undergraduate at Durham University, the 19-year-old has become a JHPA coach. She said: “I benefitted so much from the JHPA. It was great to learn from rowers older than myself, on techniques, health and how to balance sporting, academic and other commitments. It showed me what I might be capable of in the longer term.

May | Jun 2018

She hopes to break into the senior Team GB team and her dream is to compete in the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris. She combines her academic studies at Durham University with more than 20 hours of rowing training every week, supported by her course tutors and rowing coaches.” High hopes Wade Hall-Craggs, Senior Rowing Coach at Durham University Boat Club, said: “It is great that Lauren had such a positive experience of the JHPA and is now devoting her own time to supporting younger rowers. She is a credit to herself, her family, her school and college. “Lauren is an extremely talented rower and we have high hopes that she will fulfil her dream and represent Team GB – and Durham University – at the Olympics.” Supporting rowers Lauren started rowing aged 12, and was supported through Durham University’s Learn to Row programme. She was coached on the JHPA by Durham University Boat Club coaches Wade Hall-Craggs, Laura Richardson, Ian Shore and Ellie Hizzett. Lauren competed at the World Rowing Junior Championships alongside Hope Cessford, another talented local rower. Wade Hall-Craggs said: “We are very proud of the JHPA's success and students, who enjoy the programme greatly. “The programme is very popular with local schools and clubs. It is a great example of the University and region working together.” The next JHPA will take place in early 2019. Further details will be announced nearer the time.



Staff Survey – Yearly Review In April and May 2017 the University ran a Staff Survey which achieved a final response rate of 71% (3,214 members of staff). The results are available on the Staff Survey webpage: Over the summer, the Staff Survey Working Group met to discuss the results and received a further detailed analysis, using this invaluable information to inform the development of the University-wide action plan. The plan, endorsed by UEC in October 2017, addresses key areas for focus and is available on the Staff Survey webpage: UEC committed to sharing detailed results reports. Reports were produced for areas with 10 or more respondents (to seek to ensure individual staff members were not identifiable and to maintain confidentiality).

These reports, along with action planning guidance, were shared with Heads of Departments and Colleges to assist with the development of their local action plans. Members of the Working Group also attended Faculty Board, PSS Heads and College Board meetings to discuss the Staff Survey results and next steps. The Staff Survey Working Group was re-established at the beginning of this year with representatives from across the University and from recognised Trade Unions, with the purpose of monitoring progress against the University-wide action plan, and encouraging and monitoring local action planning.

What has been achieved to date:

My Durham, the University’s new benefits portal, was launched in October 2017, with over 51% uptake. My Durham offers a wide range of benefits including discounts on Nissan cars, health insurance and holidays with Jet

HR Business Partners have delivered a performance management workshop with follow up sessions scheduled for next term. Workshops are designed to empower managers to effectively manage staff performance.

The Vice-Chancellor is in the process of visiting all Departments and Colleges across the University. A Job Families framework has been developed in consultation with staff across the University and a pilot has now been approved. A framework to support career development is being developed to enhance opportunities for staff.


Information on how to access advice and guidance on bullying and harassment has been updated, with hits to the webpages doubling over the last six months.

News for Durham University Staff & Students


DURHAM RANKED 6TH IN THE UK Durham University is ranked 6th in the UK according to the 2019 Complete University Guide – cementing its place as one of the UK’s leading universities. In addition to the overall ranking, two of Durham’s academic departments are ranked first for their subject. Durham’s English department, top ranked in the Complete University Guide for the past six years, is joined in first place by the Music department. As well as the two top ranked subjects, Durham makes the top ten for 31 of the 33 subjects offered. Vice-Chancellor, Professor Stuart Corbridge said: “Maintaining our ranking as one of the UK’s top universities in the Complete University Guide is fabulous news as the guide uses a range of measures to establish overall rankings including student satisfaction, graduate prospects, and investment in academic and student facilities.” Investing in the future Professor Corbridge added: “Our ten year University Strategy launched in 2017 delivering an investment of close to £1 billion in our staff, students and digital and physical infrastructure. We have made good progress with its implementation with several projects

May | Jun 2018

now underway. Our innovative new £40m Centre for Teaching and Learning is taking shape and due for completion in September 2019, and we have recently announced plans for a new building to house the Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science departments.” “We are also investing in our wider student experience to make it the best in the UK. In March we announced an investment of £2.4m to redevelop the 150 year old Assembly Rooms, our 220 seat theatre venue. This is in addition to our multi-million pound investment in the University’s main sports facilities at Maiden Castle. Continuing recent successes These results follow Durham’s recent success in the QS World University Subject Rankings 2018. In these the University recorded its highest ever number of subjects in the world top 50, including three that maintain their places in the World Top 10 -Theology & Religion (3rd); Archaeology (5th) and Geography (6th).

Find out more about the Durham University Strategy at strategy2027 and our investment in facilities at Complete University Guide measures The Complete University Guide overall league table is compiled using ten measures: Student Satisfaction, Research Quality, Research Intensity, Entry Standards, Student: Staff Ratio; Spending on Academic Services; Spending on Student Facilities; Good Honours Degrees; Graduate Prospects and Completion. The subject tables are based on five measures: Student Satisfaction, Research Quality, Research Intensity, Entry Standards and Graduate Prospects. For more information about the Complete University Guide please visit:



Durham student wins national award for volunteering A Durham University student who has devoted many hours to helping young people enjoy sport and physical activity has won a national award for her volunteering. Sophie Szyszko combines studying Physics with representing England, as well as Durham University, at volleyball and beach volleyball. As if that was not enough, she has also helped run school holiday camps and coaching sessions, as well as leading Durham University Volleyball Club. Now she has been named Young Volunteer of the Year in the 2018 Volleyball England Awards. The 22-year-old, from London, said: “I was really happy to win. But I wasn’t doing any of this for recognition. I was just doing it for fun and to make a difference.” Sophie started taking her volleyball seriously aged 12, going on to represent England at under-17 and under-19 level in indoor volleyball and under-18 level in beach volleyball. She applied to study Physics at Durham University so she could combine her sporting passion with a high-quality degree programme. Now a fourth year undergraduate, she receives a £2,000-a-year Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship, which has helped with her living, travel and sporting costs. The Collingwood College student either plays or trains for up to three hours a day, seven days a week. Her community work at Durham began when she helped run a volleyball tournament for local cadets. She has also helped run a six-week coaching programme for primary school pupils, physical activity sessions for children aged five and six and the Team Durham holiday camps last summer. She received her award from Volleyball England after recent National Cup Finals. Deputy Director of Sport (Participation), Dave Coldwell said: “We are absolutely delighted that Sophie has been recognised for the countless hours she has given to Durham University Volleyball Club. “It is thoroughly deserved and her hard work has certainly produced fantastic results increasing the number of people who play volleyball, both at the University and in the wider Durham community. “We thank Sophie for the time she has given over the past four years and congratulate her on this prestigious award.” As well as her community volunteering, Sophie has worked hard to develop volleyball participation among Durham University students.


Sophie receiving her award from Clare Francis, Legal Director of Volleyball England She captained Durham University Volleyball Club for two years and increased the number of Durham teams competing in British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) competitions. Her Young Volunteer of the Year Award citation read: “Sophie has been an incredible ambassador for volleyball throughout her four years at Durham University. “Amongst a long list of achievements and service described as ‘nothing short of exemplary’, Sophie has been instrumental in building community links for volleyball, particularly an annual six-week PE block with a local primary school, increasing the number of BUCS teams at Durham, ensuring the long-term survival of the intra-mural volleyball league at the University and promoting the inclusion of volleyball facilities within Durham’s new sports build. “A continuous inspiration in many different areas of volleyball, Sophie’s contribution to volleyball at Durham University has been Sophie playing for England against Scotland, May 2017 ‘exceptional’.”

News for Durham University Staff & Students


Hundreds of children enjoy Durham University holiday camps Over 200 children aged four to 16 have enjoyed Easter Holiday Camps run by students from Durham University. The camps, which cost from £12 per child per day, were supported by 12 students and volunteers. Tom Kitchen, Holiday Camps Co-Ordinator, Experience Durham, said: “As a University we have been running holiday camps since Easter 2013 and they just seem to get better and better. The new Sports Park developments at Maiden Castle will enable us to grow the camps still further and that’s very exciting for us all. “The children have a great time, whatever the weather, and students – as well as enjoying themselves – develop valuable experience and skills. Some of our coaches are high performing athletes and they really value the opportunity to give something back in this way, it’s also a great experience for some of the young people to rub shoulders with athletes who may be stars of the future.”

Nine days of camps were held during the school Easter holidays, from 3 April to 13 April. Young people could choose from four themes: mini and multi sports, tennis, learn to row and adventure. The mini and multi sports camps included opportunities to have a go at cricket, volleyball, lacrosse, fencing, dodgeball, archery and much more.

Brad Soutar, 11, who took part in the tennis camp, said: “I’ve really enjoyed meeting new people.”

Tom Clark, 21, a Sport, Exercise and Physical Activity student, helped run the camp. He said: “I want to go into teaching and this has been a great experience. It’s about giving something back.”

Brad’s father, Chris Soutar, added: “It’s been a big help during the school holidays. It’s not just babysitting, they are getting out and about and getting active.”

Lloyd Francis, 20, a Philosophy, Politics and Economics student, added: “It’s a nice way to mix with the local community and get to know local people.”

Two tennis camps were held: a junior tennis camp for children aged six to nine and a development tennis camp for children aged nine to 12. The Learn to Row camp was open to children aged 11 to 16 who had never rowed before. The young people sampled rowing on the University’s state-of-the-art facilities, including the indoor rowing tank. Finally, the adventure camp, for children aged 11 to 14, included opportunities to try climbing, trampolining, golf, high ropes and skiing among other outdoor activities.

May | Jun 2018



Your IT self-service portal

IT selfservice at the click of a button Our new look self-service portal is a quick and easy way to request CIS services or report an IT issue. All staff and students have access to log new calls, check the progress of calls, and close calls once they’ve been completed. Logging calls via self-service is easy and by far the most efficient way for us to process your request. A new simple form explains what information we need to resolve your request quickly. We’ll also use the self-service portal to keep you updated about any widespread service disruption and at the click of a button you can let us know if you’re affected as well. Once we’ve completed your request or report, you can now give us feedback in ‘TripAdvisor’ style, helping us to continually improve the service we provide. Please take the time to use this feature and let us know how we’re doing - we want to know! The self-service portal allows us to digitise lots of our forms, including things like requesting or extending user accounts, requesting access to shared drives and folders, and access to buildings. We’re working towards eliminating the use of paper forms - the vast majority have already moved into the self-service portal with the rest to follow over the coming months.

Try it out If you haven't already, check out the self-service portal at All forms, knowledge articles and information about our services can be found by using the powerful search bar. Please use the self-service portal as the primary way to raise calls with us so we can process your requests as efficiently as possible. Of course, if you can't find what you’re looking for, don’t hesitate to contact the IT Service Desk on 0191 334 1515 (internal: 41515).

We know how important communication is when you’re waiting for a call to be completed. So you can also monitor progress of existing calls and provide us with further updates and attachments where needed. Our longer-term goal is to use the self-service portal to share knowledge with you, allowing you to resolve more IT issues yourself. You might have experienced this with other large organisations such as Sky, and found it quicker and more efficient to take a few simple steps to resolve your issue immediately, rather than waiting for it to be reviewed. This work has already started and will be developed over the coming months and years.


Leaving us feedback about our service is now easier than ever and helps us improve the way we resolve your requests

News for Durham University Staff & Students

NAME: Elias Koenig JOB TITLE: Web & Digital Coordinator DEPARTMENT: Marketing and Communications

What did you want to be when you were a child? Initially a bus driver, but I quickly changed that to captain of a large ship. What was the first record you bought? Mr President – Coco Jambo. What achievement are you most proud of? My MSc from Durham! What was your best subject? History When was the last time you laughed and why? Just now, about something I did earlier in the morning when I had not reached my usual caffeine levels. .

Any nicknames? Eddy. What’s the worst job you’ve ever done? Working in a foundry for a couple of summers. What’s your favourite place in the world? A number of places come to mind – wherever it feels like home.

What skill or talent would you most like to acquire? Drawing and that eye for detail that goes comes with it.

Tell me a secret: The University’s Instagram channel is better than you’d think.

What would you like you epitaph to be? Never stopped smiling. Which historical figure would you most like to be? Otto von Bismarck.

On a scale of 1-10, how much do you care what other people think of you? 6 I’d like to think.

May | Jun 2018

What’s your favourite film? Sicario.

Where will you be going for your next holiday? I am hoping for Canada!

Give me a picture of your ideal day: Getting up late, proper breakfast with muesli and fruit. After some cycling I’d go and spend a comfortable afternoon in the beer-garden followed by an evening sitting outside at home – what’s not to like?

Have you got any pets? Marty, the speeding hamster.

What’s your greatest vice? I’m constantly expanding my Steam games collection…

What luxury item would you take to a desert island? A sturdy but comfy camping chair. What’s your greatest indulgence? Haribo Tangfastics. Pass the buck: Finally, who would you like to see in the hot-seat? Sabrina Seel, Postgraduate Academic Officer, Durham Students' Union


what’s on at the University







ANNUAL FRIENDS OF THE GARDEN PLANT SALE VENUE: Botanic Garden, Hollingside Lane, DATE: Bank Holiday Monday 28 May TIME: 10am - 4pm A wide selection of plants and seeds will be available for purchase at this popular annual event. There will be cacti and succulents for sale from the Teesside Branch of the British Cactus and Succulent Society.

TIME: 10am - 12pm Children with autism, learning or sensory impairments and their families are invited to take part in our quiet-time craft activities. Create your own beautiful Chinese pot from clay.

BODIES OF EVIDENCE: HOW SCIENCE UNEARTHED DURHAM’S DARK SECRET VENUE: Palace Green Library DATES: 9 June - 7 October TIME: 10am - 5pm Bodies of Evidence brings together material from collections across the UK and beyond. The exhibition shows how Durham University scientists working with colleagues at Bradford, York and Liverpool John Moores universities used the latest scientific techniques to identify the remains of the Scottish Soldiers, found buried on Palace Green in 2013, reveal more about the soldiers’ story – how they lived, why they died, and what became of those who survived.

VENUE: Durham Castle


DATE: Wednesday 30 May

VENUE: Museum of Archaeology, Palace Green Library

TIME: 2.15pm

DATES: 14 June - 29 October

Bring along the whole family and enjoy a family-focussed tour around Durham Castle, with activities for children throughout the tour. Explore what it was like to live and work in Durham Castle in the past and find out more about some of the characters that have made Durham Castle their home over the centuries.

TIME: 10am - 5pm



This exhibition will explore the diverse achievements of women in archaeology. 2018 marks the 100th anniversary of some women getting the vote. To celebrate this momentous year, a group of Masters students from the Department of Archaeology, Durham University, are curating an exhibition to explore the diverse achievements of women in archaeology.



VENUE: Durham City

VENUE: Durham Cathedral, Palace Green

DATES: 1 June - 25 June

DATES: 26 June - 29 June

Music Durham and Durham Student Theatre (DST) present three weeks of entertainment, performances, workshops and exhibitions across the city. Visit the DFoA website for full details of the programme and online booking.

Congratulations to all Durham University students graduating this summer. Ceremonies will be taking place throughout the week, as graduating students process from Durham Castle to the Cathedral to be awarded their degrees.

For more information on University events go to

Dialogue 57  
Dialogue 57