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DialogueWLV SPRING 2016 ISSUE 22




Why how we communicate is changing language

Why recycling needs to become an industry norm

Meet some of our future champions


DialogueWLV Welcome Hello and welcome to the Spring 2016 edition of Dialogue WLV. This issue is one where we are very much looking forward at the future. As a University, the future is a huge part of what we do. Whether that is new innovation, research and expertise to improve people’s lives or helping students realise their ambitions – the future looms large in the work we do.


In this issue we look at future and how it relates to a range of areas. We take a look at what are the next big things coming along the track for technology with the view of making everyday life easier. We’ve already started to see the use of smart technology in our homes but according to one of our experts it is going to become a lot more common place and entire houses could be controlled by technology. The way we communicate using mobile technology and social media has led to an evolution in language and how people interact with each other and we also take a look at the work we are doing internationally to help developing communities be more sustainable. We pride ourselves on nurturing an entrepreneurial spirit among our students and graduates – something one of our reports looks at when examining some of our future business successes.

03 IN THE NEWS – headlines from the University. 05 WHOWHATWHEREWHENWHYHOW – answers to questions you didn’t even realise you had.

07 FROM AtoB – our resident academic scribe pens his views of the world. 09 WELCOME TO THE FUTURE – we take a look at how we’re helping shape the future.

11 A VIRTUAL FUTURE? – a look at what’s on the technology horizon. 13 SMART, INTELLIGENT AND GOOD LOOKING – how buildings are getting smarter.

15 TALKING PICTURES – we look at how online and mobile communication is changing the way we interact.

Our fashion and textiles students have been looking at different ways of creating a greener industry by using more recycled products in designs. And finally we meet some of our possible future champions who form part of the University’s sports scholarship scheme. It’s a packed issue and I hope you enjoy it,

19 PROTECTING FORESTS FOR FUTURE COMMUNITIES – work by the University is helping developing communities preserve their habitats.


Wolverhampton is a great place to do business as many of our graduates have found out.


SUIT? – can the industry do more to promote sustainable ways of working?

27 THE GOLDEN GENERATION – the University’s sports scholars scheme is looking to produce future stars.

29 IN PICTURES – a visual round up of what’s been happening across the


Geoff Layer Vice-Chancellor, University of Wolverhampton






YOLO so read this

See if you’re in the frame from one of the University’s events

New start-up scheme for grads




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Inthenews... 01 Building names formally unveiled New names have been given to two of the University’s main buildings situated at the City Campus.

02 Success for Science Park The University’s Science Park has celebrated its 20th anniversary, as it prepares to enter its latest phase of development. Over 100 people, including tenants and University business support representatives, enjoyed the informal celebration, with the occasion giving visitors a chance to see how the site had developed over the years, with original plans being shown alongside the latest hi-tech plans for the new development. Among the participants was Paul Kalinauckas – the first ever visitor to the site, who was delighted to still be running a business situated at the park.

Renaming: Vice-Chancellor Geoff Layer (left) and Chancellor, Lord Paul (right) mark opening of The Wulfruna Building.

The official naming ceremony was led by Chancellor, The Rt Hon. Lord Paul of Marylebone PC, who was joined by members of his family and friends, as well as several civic dignitaries.

The University of Wolverhampton Science Park is currently home to over 80 businesses employing around 500 people.

The buildings were renamed as part of an approach to the University giving its campuses an identity and presence. The grade II listed Wulfruna Building situated in Wulfruna Street, formally known as MA, has been named after the founder of what has become Wolverhampton – Lady Wulfrun. The Ambika Paul Building, formally known as MD, has been named in memory of Lord and Lady Paul’s daughter, Ambika, who passed away in 1968 from leukaemia, aged four-years-old.

Cheers: Paul Kalinauckas and Nigel Babb toast the Science Park’s 20th birthday.

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03 African Entrepreneurship Centre formally launched The University’s Centre for African Entrepreneurship and Leadership (CAEL), which supports entrepreneurship and democratic governance in Africa, has been formally launched. The event, which took place at the University, welcomed visitors such as the new patron for CAEL, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, who is also the former Governor of Lagos. The launch celebrations included visiting various parts of the University and also a civic lunch, hosted by the Mayor and Mayoress of Wolverhampton. CAEL’s main aim is to build knowledge and capacity in Africa, as well as provide research and policy developments.

Africa celebration: Dignitaries celebrate the launch of CAEL.

Hub: An artist’s impression of what the new Elite Manufacturing Centre will look like.

05 Budding entrepreneurs to be given helping hand The University has teamed up with Virgin StartUp as a delivery partner to help local people put their business ideas into practice in the Black Country – encouraging entrepreneurship and promoting economic growth in the region.

04 Flagship manufacturing centre to come to Springfield The Black Country LEP has recently approved £7.6m funding for a new flagship manufacturing skills centre at the University’s new Springfield Campus. The Elite Manufacturing Centre will be an 800 sq. m regeneration of an historic but derelict building at the former Springfield Brewery site, situated in Wolverhampton City Centre. The centre will function as an employer-led training facility for the Black Country, designed to improve productivity and growth in the high value manufacturing (HVM) sector. The development is all part of a £70m project to regenerate the site, led by the University and local partners.

Tom Bailey, VirginStart Up Loan Entrepreneur

The government funded scheme offers budding entrepreneurs fixed rate start-up loans and, as part of the Virgin StartUp package, provides a unique nationwide offering of mentoring, finance and practical advice, and general support. The University’s SPEED Plus project has already locally supported the creation of 240 businesses, with 136 of those having already exceeded the 12 month trading point.

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whowherewhatwhy WHO?

Bobby Lee Darby University graduate Bobby Lee Darby, who has since gone on to write his way to success in Hollywood as a professional screenwriter, decided to pop back to class recently, to give an inspirational lecture to students who hope to follow in his dazzling footsteps.

Bobby Lee Darby (pictured left)

Bobby, who studied Video and Film production, graduated in 2006 with the hope of making it big in the film industry. After joining forces with another University of Wolverhampton graduate, he enjoyed early success with his first ever script, which won exceptional praise at the Slam Dance Horror Screenplay Festival.

Now busy writing for WWE studios based in Los Angeles, Bobby aims to one day be in the director’s seat, as well as continuing to be able to peruse his passion for writing.

the life skills and qualifications that will enable them to successfully succeed in any career or higher education choice that they eventually make.


The Health Futures University Technical College The Health Futures University Technical College (UTC) situated on West Bromwich High Street has now been officially opened. The centre, which is sponsored by the University, aims to give young people the necessary skills for a career in healthcare and health science professions, and was officially opened on 4 February by MP George Freeman and Lord Baker. The event was a day full of enjoyment and celebration for all involved, with speeches being made by Professor Linda Lang and Principal Robert Fell. The UTC first opened its doors in September 2015 and has since been equipping young people with

Good health: Official opening of the Health Futures UTC, which was attended by Lord Baker.


Looking into homelessness University Professor Kate Moss and Paramjit Singh have recently seen their research into homelessness, which was originally undertaken in Shrewsbury eight years ago, extend its reach as far as Europe – with findings from a further study conducted in four European countries being presented to the European Parliament.


Gearing up for race season The University’s Formula 3 race team are busy preparing themselves for the upcoming season which is set to kick off in April. The students of the Motorsport and Automotive Engineering course are buzzing with excitement with the prospects of competing in and potentially

winning the F3 Cup. The team, headed by David Tucker, Principle Lecturer in Mechanical Engineering (Automotive and Motorsport) are set to embark on a whole host of events, with the upcoming calendar looking fit to burst. Racing plans for the year include visits to Donington Park National and Outlon Park; with the team currently spending most of their time in the workshop, getting to grips with every component of their potentially trophy-winning car.

whenhow WHEN?

House of Lords The University is set to once again take to the House of Lords in celebration of outstanding achievement.

Street research: Paramjit Singh and Kate Moss of the Faculty of Social Science.

The pair first began their work looking at a small sample of women rough sleepers in Shrewsbury focusing on reviewing national, regional and local reports on homelessness and rough sleeping in the context of specific gender issues, such as domestic abuse. The findings of the research, funded by the European Union DAPHNE project, are documented in a new book written by Kate and Paramjit - Women Rough Sleepers in Europe: Homelessness and Victims of Domestic Abuse; published by Policy Press.

The event, which is beginning to form itself into an annual festivity, will this year take place on 11 May with the theme being: health and wellbeing. The reception, which will be hosted by the University’s Chancellor, The Rt Hon. Lord Paul of Marylebone PC, typically welcomes guests such as the Mayor and Deputy Mayors of Wolverhampton, as well as honorary graduates, and partners. The previous event, which took place on 27 April, was in celebration of the arts and creative industries, and saw a range of glassware commissioned by the University taking pride of place on reception; to honour the work accomplished by students.


The art of glass making Blending into our working day, glass for most of us is typically overlooked but for those who create it, it is nothing less than a piece of art. Modern glass making is a tricky business, with many techniques being used to create different finished products. Glass is essentially made by melting together several minerals at very high temperatures, with the main ingredient being silica in the form of sand. The University’s School of Art is home to one of the largest and innovative glass making facilities in Europe, with workshops being held for students to learn how to get to grips with moulding, blowing and constructing glass. In 2005, the University’s entire glass area underwent major refurbishment; meaning facilities now include a hot shop with glass furnaces, centrifuge, hydraulic press, and a resin sand casting facility, enabling students to create their very own masterpieces.

Dr Aidan Byrne Senior Lecturer in English, Media and Cultural Studies

FromAtoB A few weeks ago, our esteemed Prime Minister (Eton, Oxford) announced that Britain’s universities must make more effort to become ethnically and socially diverse. About 10% of Oxford, Cambridge and their rivals’ intake is economically disadvantaged (they’re actually getting worse) and half their intake is drawn from the 7% of the school population which attended feepaying schools. Of Oxford University’s 2500 freshers in 2014, 27 were black. Not 27%: 27 individuals. All the academic research demonstrates that state-educated students come out with better degrees, perhaps because they’re better at working independently and haven’t been educated beyond their abilities by the resources of the private sector. So it was good to see our Vice-Chancellor Geoff Layer’s very public response to Cameron’s call. There’s no underrepresentation of ethnic minority students in Britain’s universities he said, 25 percent of university students are of BME origin, 5% more than the general population, and the University of Wolverhampton’s intake is 45% BME. The politely unspoken corollary is that the education of our ethnic minority and working class students has been dumped on the underfunded, unfashionable universities while the honeyed stone, quadrangles and tiny staff-student ratios are reserved for the privileged. Weirdly, this appalling system might actually advantage University of Wolverhampton students and their colleagues in the modern university sector. In my own field – English Literature – and many others, innovation started here. While the Oxfords and Cambridges clung to the Canon and resisted theoretical developments, places like this drew on continental philosophy, Cultural Studies, sociology and other fields to refresh our curricula and practices. A student who comes here may not acquire the network of powerful friends or be able to join the Bullingdon Club, but they will have the skills and critical abilities to adapt to a new economy and society in which connections will be far less important. The revolting ‘gig economy’ we’re told is coming down the line might make everyone insecure and economically dependent on the cynical largesse of exploiters like Uber, but our students will have the ability to

Aidan Byrne

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think on their feet and out-compete those of a more complacent mind-set. When I think of where the University of Wolverhampton will be in the future I fervently hope that our fellow HEI institutions will have taken on some of the challenge of educating disadvantaged groups, that they will be as ethnically and socially diverse as we are. But more importantly, I hope that the teachers and managers here will have the mental and managerial flexibility to identify new opportunities and methods without succumbing to the temptation to reduce Higher Education for poor and minority students to industrial skills. We need the confidence to promote Medieval History or Thomist Theology as fit subjects for bright, employable and forward-thinking students from Wolverhampton and its surroundings just as much as Oxford promotes such subjects to its Etonian intake. We might even teach these things better, by drawing on the intellectual resources of academics less hide-bound by restricted modes of thought. Our students have unlimited potential in all sorts of unexpected and unpredictable fields: while we have the money and goodwill of the region we should expand in numbers, scope and ambition both economically and intellectually. The clever employers don’t turn up with a list of what their graduate employees need to know beyond the basics: they turn up and ask our students what they can add. All this needs your help. Not just your cash (though all donations are very gratefully received) but your commitment to transforming the relationships between the University, our students’ employers, local government and the community. If you’ve visited Wolverhampton recently you’ll have seen the Springfield Campus, which is transforming derelict wasteland into new university and further education opportunities. It’s easy to slip into defeatism faced by a government which has abolished financial support for poor students and has even withdrawn the special funding for universities which actively seek out disadvantaged intakes, but the green shoots of educational recovery can be seen throughout the region. Over to you.

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Food banks provide essential lifeline Following the financial crisis there has been a great reliance on food banks. Dr Steve Iafrati, Social Policy Course Leader at the University, examines why. One of the prevalent aspects of postrecession Britain has been the rise in significance of food banks both in signalling a growing role for the voluntary sector in providing welfare, but also as a stark measure of the persistence of poverty in many neighbourhoods across the country. Significantly, much of the growth in food bank demand has not come from traditional soup kitchen users, but rather from families, people working and those who previously would not have considered using food aid. In this respect, food banks are indicative of a broader trend in the British economy characterised by low wages, precarious employment and growing poverty. Recent research in Wolverhampton shows a startling increase in the numbers of people in financial difficulties being referred to food banks. The largest food bank in the city has seen the number of registered users double from 5,000 to 10,000 families in the last two years whilst other smaller food banks have seen numbers increase by three, four or even fivefold. For the people using the food banks, they are an essential lifeline that addresses one of the most fundamental human needs. As one interviewee put it, she can afford to feed her children, or heat the house, or buy school uniform; but she could not afford all three. The interview was indicative of people’s ongoing need for food banks. Rather than being a one-off intervention during times of crisis such as unexpected bills or losing some money, the reality is that food banks are used by most people in an ongoing manner. Most people in the research were regular users

and saw no imminent change in their circumstances. This was a view echoed by food bank managers who witnessed patterns of poverty as being a long-term phenomenon amongst their regulars. Looking at interviewees’ experiences of poverty, these were not stereotypical soup kitchen users that might spring to mind when mentioning food banks; most of the people had families, some worked, many had caring responsibilities, and all wanted something better but were finding it difficult to escape poverty. Whilst it might be easy to identify the role of benefit sanctions in driving people to food banks, the reality seemed to be that those interviewed had a complex range of reasons for going to food banks. Economic factors were often paramount, but they were made worse by lack of support for caring responsibilities, limited housing options, and zero hour contracts among other factors. For this new group of people, there were increasing calls not just for food, but also for bedding, coats, furniture, cookware and other items as poverty increasingly eats into people’s lives. From a social policy perspective, we are witnessing the emergence of a new model of welfare where the government does less and the voluntary sector is filling the gaps with no financial support. Whilst previous government ministers have praised food banks for their community response in times of crisis, the reality is an indictment of one of the richest economies in the world that cannot feed its own people. Most worrying however is the emergence of a new problem where demand for food banks is starting to exceed supply of food and capacity. There are

increasing examples of food banks turning people away, others putting blocks on new referrals and passing people on to other food banks that are already struggling with demand. With food banks representing the lowest level of the welfare safety net, it is difficult to imagine where these will find themselves. As expectations grow for food banks to address the increasing outcomes of poverty in the city, there are growing consequences for if they fail. However, many food banks operate out of the goodness and commitment of a small group of people who are increasingly stretched and facing more and more demands for service. Should any of the food banks in Wolverhampton fail, the knock on effects could be very significant for welfare in the city. Without the food banks, not only would many people be going without food, the city would also see an increase in payday loans, debt, begging and maybe even shop lifting. Looking to the future, the outlook currently appears fairly bleak. Government data shows the West Midlands as having one of the smallest economies in the country as well as some of the lowest levels of economic growth, which means that it is unlikely that poverty is going to be addressed through economic growth. Similarly, we are unlikely to see a shift away from cuts in welfare, and the introduction of Universal Credit in Wolverhampton (8th February) could well exacerbate food bank demand. This seems to be the right time for food banks, the council and other service providers to sit down and start planning how food banks can be supported and, ultimately, how demand for food banks can be reduced.

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As a society we are obsessed with the future. Whether it is the technology we may benefit from, how our surroundings and climate may change or simply how successful and happy we may be. The future is many things to many people, whether it is an optimistic or bleak view you may take. But the one good thing about it is that people can help to shape it. Here at the University of Wolverhampton we are striving to create our future leaders, scientists, professionals, engineers, artists, designers, sporting stars, thinkers and citizens. Through our research we seek to push the boundaries to produce innovative solutions to today’s problems. This edition of Dialogue looks at how tomorrow’s world is very much a world of possibilities.

Welcome to the


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A virtual future?

We are living in a fast-paced exciting technological world where yesterday’s science fiction becomes today’s reality. Dr Thomas Hartley, Senior Lecturer in Computer Science, reports.

Future Technology

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Technology that we now use every day, such as touchscreen mobile phones, smart watches and social networking, were once the stuff of science fiction and predicted as being the next big thing in technology. Some predictions are not always as accurate. Early 20th century predictors envisioned a world full of flying cars and robots. Nevertheless I will have a go at making a couple of predictions about what are going to be prominent “big things” in tech over the next few years.

Consumer Virtual Reality has arrived and is here to stay Virtual reality (VR) has been around for many years – for example, visitors to Disney World have been able to play VR experiences like ‘Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride’ since 1998; however, it has been mainly a niche product. Recently we have seen the advent of good quality and relatively low cost VR headsets like the Oculus Rift development kit for desktop PCs and Google Cardboard for mobile phones. During 2016 and the next few years we will see VR headsets, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR go mainstream. Initially headsets will require a high-end PC or mobile phone to run, which will limit uptake in the short term; but as costs decrease we will see more desirable mass market VR packages. For example, Playstation 4 owners will be able to buy PlayStation VR that will work with their games console. They will not need to purchase an expensive PC in addition to the headset. Recent consumer VR headsets have been primarily designed with gaming

in mind; they will also offer a range of other new experiences. Consumers will be able to watch 360 degree movies and live events. They will also be able to use VR for applications such as training and education. In the Faculty of Science and Engineering we are researching how virtual reality and hand movement tracking can be used to improve training simulations, such as virtual labs. VR chemistry labs are interactive virtual environments (VEs) that give students learning experiences, such as conducting experiments. Emerging interactive technologies, such as hand motion tracking, make actions in VEs more intuitive and facilitate enhanced user presence. The virtual hands mimic the user’s hand movement and gestures. They facilitate more natural and intuitive ways users interact with virtual objects.

More personal wearables Wearable technology is a type of device, such as smart watches and fitness trackers that are worn on the body, typically as clothing or accessories. Wearables have seen large growth over the last few years; albeit, there has been a certain amount of consumer apathy to these devices in recent months. Wearable can be perceived as large, clunky and impersonal. There are also security concerns around being connected to the Internet all the time. The usefulness of these devices will continue to push growth over the next few years. They will continue to revolutionise the medical and fitness sectors. In particular, we will see many medical wearables that will offer many new ways to improve patients’ lives.

For example, devices that monitor a person’s diabetes and automatically dispense insulin are beginning to come onto the market. A research project at the University of Wolverhampton called “MinD Designing for people with Dementia” is exploring how design can help people with dementia engage in social contexts. Part of this project involves studying how wearable technology can help people affected by dementia improve their ability to engage socially by providing help with recognition of other people and emotion management. As medical wearables go mainstream they will become a part of our everyday lives and be used to manage and monitor a whole range of conditions. At present there is limited reason to put on a wearable unless you want to monitor your fitness or check e-mails. As technology improves, wearables will also see growth in sectors outside medicine and fitness. These will need to present sleeker, less obtrusive and more sophisticated designs that are more appealing to consumers. We will see more clothing and jewellery that look like conventional products, but also contain technology. One example is Samsung’s Welt, which is a smart belt that tracks changes in your waistline, steps and how long you have been sitting. One of the most advanced elements of the Welt is that you cannot tell it is a smart object as it looks like a regular belt. We will see many more of these less intrusive Wearables over the next few years.

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Intelligent, good looking and smart. Meet the buildings of the future. Future Smart Builds

Smart technology is already making an impact in our homes, with apps to control heating and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms sent directly to your phone. But what’s around the corner? As buildings become more ‘intelligent’, we’re going to see our homes and offices communicating with us more. Claire Tallentire looks into these developments. If you’ve seen the film Ex Machina (2015) about an eccentric software billionaire and his futuristic home with facial recognition for entry and the ability to lockdown rooms, there’s a real sense that the building is in control and almost alive. Whilst the movie is firmly in the sci-fi genre, it’s not so far from the truth. Huge developments are on the horizon for our homes, offices, towns and cities, as buildings start to pass us data and we rely on them for control.

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“In less than 10 years time, we’ll see extensive amounts of smart technology within our buildings,” says David Heesom, Reader in Building Information Modelling (BIM), Faculty of Science and Engineering. “The intelligence within the home and workplace will be scary for some people. “There’s a big revolution within the built environment as it becomes more digital. For the construction process, instead of doing drawings and plans, we now produce intelligent 3D models which can help us better manage buildings as we can look at the technology that’s needed in them for efficiency. With many of these initiatives we are up there with the world leaders; the Government Construction Strategy 2025 states a move towards smart buildings – intelligent, sensor driven buildings, smart construction and digital design and sensors built within objects that constantly monitor performance.”

So what technology will we start to see in our buildings? The concept of smart technology isn’t new, Bill Gates was championing it in the 90s, but what’s coming is on a greater scale and is focused on us managing buildings better but also using the buildings to help manage us better. “There are apps already out there like Hive from British Gas which lets you control your heating and hot water from your smartphone, tablet or laptop, through to Nest – a learning thermostat which gets to know your movements, when you’re usually home in the evening and what temperature you like. This type of technology is already starting to make decisions on our behalf,” explains Heesom. “What we see in F1 racing with telemetry data to record performance of the car and potential adjustments needed, we’ll see in intelligent buildings. We’re looking at buildings peppered with sensors – if the heating’s broken, it should notify us that there’s a problem with the

boiler. It’ll also know to power down offices and places of work when staff have gone for Christmas leave, as an example – it’ll save companies a fortune.” Smart technology could be utilised throughout universities to pass essential data to students and to help them manage their lesson timetabling and deadlines. “It has exciting potential,” says Heesom. “The buildings will be alive and passing us data. We’re starting to see it in US shopping malls – as you walk by a store, it knows that you bought something online from them two weeks ago and could ask ‘how are those jeans?, ‘do you want an extra 10% off today?’ “In a university context, the future of the sector is looking towards buildings that recognise students and staff as they enter. Their phones will be sending them push messages as they know they’re in

the building – ‘you’ve got 5 minutes to get to your lecture in building X but you’re in building Y – you’d better get moving!’ It’ll also be used to remind students of assignments due and other key information.” There are pitfalls to relying too much on smart technology – as we saw with Ex Machina (no spoilers!). If you’re relying on a constant connection and your app stops working so you can’t control your heating in your home, this will be an issue. On a wider scale, organisations could be crippled if their networks go down and the buildings don’t ‘work’. There are security issues too, in terms of hacking and terrorism; imagine a high security prison which is hacked and all the doors open, or someone cutting power at a hospital. “The cost is dropping on this technology so we’ll be seeing it used more and more,” adds Heesom. “This will become the norm, and our buildings of the future will be very different indeed.”

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Talking pictures Future Communications

The way we communicate online has seen rapid changes over the last few years. Emma Pugh takes a look at the image evolution.

Text messaging and social media have led to some of the most dramatic changes in our use of everyday language in any period of time. Who has time to write a letter or even a lengthy email anymore? If a shortcut is available, it seems most people are happy to take it, even if it’s to the detriment of good, old fashioned English. Initial stages of omitted letters conveying ur xlnt wknd and letters for words when you could no longer c y u needed to write everything out were followed by numeral homophones (l8r), shortening (wot), colloquialisms and logograms (&). As for poor old punctuation? 4get abt it! From the moment the social media scene took hold, a myriad of acronyms and initialisms appeared from yolo (you only live once) to gtg (I’ve got to go) and hagn (have a good night).

It became all too easy to make gaffes if you didn’t keep up with the fast changing pace, as many celebrities and politicians found to their detriment. David Cameron famously signed off emails to Rebekah Brooks with lol – until she explained it meant ‘laugh out loud’, not ‘lots of love’. Such mistakes had those in the know rofl (rolling on the floor laughing). Then, just when everyone was getting used to the new terms, an increased use of predictive text and spelling checkers on both iPhones and androids led to a significant reduction in abbreviations. All change again. But now, it seems there is no need for words at all. Not when a picture can speak a thousand. Enter the era of the emoji. Originating from Japan and described as the ‘first truly global language’, there are hundreds of images to choose from to convey an endless array of emotions and situations. Billions are sent out each day, and, with Facebook upgrading its ‘like’ buttons to a

choice of six emojis, the icons’ popularity continues to grow. Many were incredulous when the Oxford Dictionary 2015 ‘word’ of the year was revealed not to be a word at all but an emoji. The ‘tears of joy’ emoji usurped pretenders such as fleek (attractive) to take the top spot. This had some displaying, well, emoji tears of despair. While it may seem bizarre that the word of the year wasn’t even a word at all, there’s no denying that in the digital age emoji culture appears to be well and truly embedded. Whether you’re feeling romantic, angry or bored, it’s easy to convey and images are available to depict everything from flora and fauna to lunch options and travel destinations. It’s part of a changing environment where communication in general has gone from being text based to much more image led, with photographs, images, screengrabs and emojis all increasingly taking the place of words.

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Mike Thelwall, Professor of Information Science at the University of Wolverhampton and leader of its Statistical Cybermetrics Research Group, believes this change is part of an ongoing evolution.

Top 10 most used emojis


Face with Stuck-Out Tongue and Winking Eye • just kidding

He has analysed extensive images shared on platforms such as Twitter, with personal photographs used to show what users are doing. A photograph of a new pair of shoes can now serve as a reminder to a friend about an arranged night out, taking the place of traditional text communication.


Person with Folded Hands


Full Moon with Face

“I think people are becoming less verbal and more visual. They are communicating more and more through pictures rather than words,” says Professor Thelwall.


Face Blowing a Kiss


Thumbs Up Sign

“If you like a song you’re listening to, 20 years ago you might have called a friend to tell them about it, five years ago you might have texted, now, people just take a screenshot on their smartphone and send the image on. A picture says it all without needing to speak.” He says that sending an image is so easy and inexpensive now that it’s easy to see why it has become so commonplace. “I don’t think it’s either a good thing or a bad thing – it’s just an evolution,” he says. In terms of language, University of Wolverhampton students will be able to examine the emoji effect further, with linguistics academics planning a new module which includes detailed consideration of computer-mediated interaction. So, it’s time to embrace visual communication. It’s here to stay. A yellow face, panda or photograph of some shoes may just convey exactly what you needed it to. And everyone smiles in the same language.

6 7 8 9 10

• pleading

• creepy

• friendly

• approval

Pile of Poo • it’s rubbish

Face with Tears of Joy • happy

Smiling Face with Heart-Shaped Eyes • wildly in love

New Moon with Face • creepier

Roasted Sweet Potato •?

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Image credit: Daniel McClane

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Protecting forests for future communities Future Sustainable Climate With deforestation happening across the globe, the people who live within forest communities risk losing everything. The University of Wolverhampton’s Centre for International Development and Training (CIDT) is trying to change that by helping to give the communities a voice and educating at grassroots level. Claire Tallentire finds out more. As countries look to develop, forests across the world are under threat. They can be cut down to make way for land or business developments or resources, such

as palm oil. As well as having a devastating impact on local wildlife, ecosystems and C02 emissions – losses from agriculture and deforestation are thought to, at present, account for around 20% of additional C02 emissions – many indigenous communities still rely on the forests for food, medicine, shelter and for trade. Without any – or poor – forest governance, the lives of these communities are under threat. The University’s CIDT is working with civil society organisations in many deforestation at-risk countries to help educate indigenous communities of their rights and how to negotiate with Governments to ensure their considerations are taken into account when forest areas are to be developed. Dr Aurelian Mbzibain, senior consultant, CIDT, explains more. “On a global context, poor forest governance is getting worse,” says Mbzibain. “Many countries have corruption at Government level – officials may have their own timber companies, therefore an avid interest in cutting down forests

– or the communication is poor between different Government departments; so areas which were protected by one official may then be assigned for development to a timber company by another. “Indigenous communities that traditionally have never had a voice – the people who’ve always lived in the forests – are having their habitats cut down without a say or a chance to put their case forward. There’s a change in microclimates, so the animals they depend on for food are either killed or move on. Medicinal plants disappear. If the routes to where they fish or collect nuts are blocked by fallen trees or heavy duty equipment, they can’t get there.” CIDT has over 40 years experience of consultancy, training and project management in international development in more than 120 countries worldwide. In January 2014, it was awarded the £1.9 million contract to educate the civil society organisations in Cameroon and Central African Republic on forest governance rights for indigenous communities and the education of future forest

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governance employees. The project has just come to an end this year, with positive results and a model that can be shared globally.

Master’s Level. We are developing reference programmes which can be shared across any university to improve education in this area.”

“Civil society organisations and universities have been our key targets in these countries,” explains Mbzibain. “Through our training with the civil society organisations, they will then teach the forest community leaders about their rights and how to stand up for themselves at Government meetings, as well as how to analyse Government policies and make proposals.

One of the pieces of work from the project that Mbzibain is most proud of is how CIDT contributed to securing a positive future for forest governance and indigenous communities in Central African Republic, when the country redrafted its constitution in 2014.

“We’ve also been working with universities, such as University of Dschang, Cameroon, and University of Bangui in Central African Republic, to improve their forest governance curriculum. If their graduates are looking for jobs in this industry, understanding the rights of forest people at curriculum stage will go a long way in their empathy and knowledge towards those communities when they go into working for a timber company or at Government level. “The University of Dschang now has a new forest governance course at

“The forest communities there had never been consulted by Government before to make any contribution to the forest reform process,” says Mbzibain. “During a time of civil war and unrest in the country, CIDT spotted the opportunity for the communities to be involved in the consultation process; the EU and Department for International Development supported us with funding, at a high risk implementation time. “We engaged a process through the civil society organisations for local forest communities to educate them on what a constitution is and why they should be getting involved – through information days and

similar. 3,000 people were involved in identifying key concerns for the forest communities and there was a convention on the rights of indigenous people. “The outcome was their issues were integrated into the draft constitution. That’s the highlight of the project for me – we’ve helped to change what was a weak civil society coming out of a war, forest communities that were never consulted, and parliamentarians with no history of working with forest communities. The University of Wolverhampton has helped to influence the constitution of a country!” So whilst we hear the bad headlines about the effects of deforestation, it’s comforting to know that there are individuals and organisations out there at grassroots level educating the forest communities about how to have a voice and influence Government. Whilst we may not be able to stop deforestation en masse, the knowledge of the communities that rely on them is spreading and they’re increasingly able to secure their own areas so no developments happen on them.

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Creating the businesses of the future Future Business

With a recent study hailing Wolverhampton as the fourth best city in the country in which to start a new business, there are plenty of opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. Over the past decade, the city has evolved into one of the UK’s most significant enterprise hubs, with a growing number of emerging businesses taking shape. Researchers at Quality Formations, a firm specialising in forming new companies, scored Wolverhampton highly due to its quality of life, low crime and affordable costs. While it may not have the size or strength of leading business capitals, the support the city offers means it is leading the way in helping to create the influential companies of the future, and its reputation is flourishing. Pivotal to this success and future growth is the help offered to start-ups by the University of Wolverhampton, which is central to the economic growth and future of

entrepreneurship in the region. Enterprise staff at the University of Wolverhampton Science Park offer consultancy, development advice and support for current students, graduates, alumni and staff to start up their own business. As part of this work, the University’s SPEED Plus Programme provides everything from funding, training and education to mentoring and expert advice. Among its many success stories is VOiD Applications ( It was set up in 2012 as VOiD Games Limited by three University of Wolverhampton graduates who created their own APP for the Apple Store. Managing Director Chris Carter says: “We setup the company with help from the SPEED Plus Programme, and were helped with all aspects of running a business. “In 2013 we decided to move the focus of the company and created

the brand VOiD Applications, a trading name of VOiD Games Ltd that focused on B2B services for app development, games development, web design and graphic design. “Since then, we have tailored our marketing approach and really nailed down what we offer. We now push mobile applications in four different areas: Marketing, Education, Enterprise and Training. We are currently growing as a business and getting a wide range of different clients, including the University and City Council.” The company has links to the University through some of its projects, including a careers and employability app and also offers placements to Dutch students who are studying app development in Holland. Another success is InPower, an organisation devoted to empowering people of all ages through martial arts, including community sessions in areas high in anti-social behaviour and unemployment.

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SPEED Plus Project by numbers: Over three years:

1,242 240 205 136

individuals were assisted with getting a job individuals were registered onto the SPEED Plus project new jobs have been created registered businesses have reached the 12 month trading point

Founder Daryl Chambers says: “I did a Business Management degree at the University and really got a grasp of the business world and what would be involved in managing a business. I was able to apply the principles I learned from early on and believe that contributed to my success. “Through SPEED Plus I was appointed with a mentor and received various resources that helped me establish my business and get my message out there. I was honoured to receive an award from SPEED Plus for my accomplishments. “We are now in schools and colleges in the West Midlands and have plans to go nationwide.” Daryl may even be helping to develop entrepreneurs of the future himself. “We are developing young people’s inner selves, as well as enabling them to gain a nationally-recognised qualification. We also offer voluntary positions and possible future employment.”

Additionally, the University is now a delivery partner for Virgin StartUp, helping local people put their business ideas into practice in the Black Country.

“The partnership with the University and Virgin Startup has allowed me to work closely with expert mentors to develop a business plan, create business goals and achieve them.”

The government funded scheme offers fixed rate start-up loans and provides a nationwide offering of mentoring, finance and advice. Founder and owner of Succeed Through Speaking, Tom K Bailey found fantastic business support.

Tony Collins, Non-Executive Director at Virgin StartUp, says: “We’re delighted to be working with the University of Wolverhampton to help local entrepreneurs get their business ideas off the ground, not only financially but by providing an invaluable network of advice and support.”

His company is focused on developing public speaking, presentation and communication skills for young people. It offers group workshops, one-to-one coaching, online support and video presentation analysis.

He states that launching your own business is one of the most fulfilling and rewarding things you can do. For so many people, the University is making that dream a reality and launching the businesses of the future.

“Having suffered with a crippling fear of public speaking through school, university and my early career I know how life changing it can be to overcome this fear and start to enjoy speaking in front of people and delivering presentations with confidence,” says Tom.

For more information, visit: and

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Is the fashion industry cutting its cloth to suit? Future Fashion Controversy in recent years surrounding the world of fashion has seemed to focus solely on the size (or undersize) of its models. Without a doubt, size matters. But let’s consider the future of fashion in a context without the emotive images of half-starved humans eating into the equation. What contribution is the industry making to sustainability or is it, quite simply, stitching the planet up through a pattern of destructive behaviour and outmoded practices? Mags Wintrop reports.

Considering world fibre production is now 82 million tons, which requires 145 million tons of coal and somewhere between 1.5 trillion and 2 trillion gallons of water to produce, it seems clear that the fashion industry has got so much more to focus on than lifting its weight restrictions. Whilst it appears to be going in a ‘promising’ right direction, with the first ever Fifty-Plus Fashion Week recently and a nod towards the fuller figure with a glimpse of PlusSize collections, it’s an industry which draws excessively on the planet’s resources. And with the rise of mass produced clothes, manufactured at low cost in Third World countries, it’s not surprising that clothes have now become disposable goods, transient trends at cut price costs, made from low quality textiles and blended from materials that can’t be recycled. We’re dressing for less – but is the

planet paying the price? At the University of Wolverhampton, the Fashion and Textiles Degree course focuses the next generation of creative designers to learn about the impact they will have in the future and students are challenged to think about how they can instigate change by encouraging sustainability to be at the heart of everything they do. Sharon Watts, School of Creative Arts and Design, said: “There are so many things to take into consideration when studying for a degree in Fashion and Textiles. We want students to look further afield than the catwalk and the design of clothes. “We want them to think about how the fashion and textiles industry can make a valid and valuable contribution to sustainability as well

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Design by Becky Bayliss

25 Dialogue WLV

Top row, left to right: images by Charlotte Walker / designs by Gemma Bullock, Becky Bayliss Middle row: designs by Mary Skinner Bottom row: designs by Mary Skinner

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as long-term socio-economic and technology issues. “It’s not just about what we’re wearing and what we will be wearing in the future – it’s looking at the impact this will have on society.”

could fashion an idea for recycling into something both wearable and saleable. She created an outfit fit for the future with a scarf woven and knitted from recycled jersey material, a t-shirt made out of organic cotton jersey and trousers made out of organic jersey fleece.

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Third year Fashion and Textiles student, Gemma Bullock, 21 from Kidderminster, sized up the problem when she visited a local textile recycling centre in Bilston. More than two thirds of textile waste in Britain is sent to landfill with a small amount sent back to the underprivileged countries that are mass producing clothes at low cost in notorious ‘sweat shops’.

She said: “In our second year we had looked at the environmental issues relating to the fashion industry. Visiting the recycling centre, and seeing the sheer volume of clothes going to waste, really inspired me to look carefully at how we can produce new clothes from old garments.” Having been shortlisted in a national ‘Eco Designer of the Year’ competition, Gemma proved she

We shouldn’t be looking at recycled clothes as something that sits separately from the High Street. Recycled clothes and organic fabrics should be readily available – like buying organic food in the supermarket. People need to be aware that there are alternatives out there.

Cottoning on to upcycling First year students have already cottoned on to the upcycling trend by using unwanted shirts and creating new outfits from the material, buttons, cuffs and collars. Jo Bloodworth, Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles, said: “Our aim is to create a whole new generation of young people who can create, design and build brands ethically.” Becky Bayliss, a student on the course, said:

I’d never upcycled before and it’s certainly challenging trying to create an outfit out of old shirts when you encounter different textiles, fabrics and differing weights. But the exercise has taught us that, with a little bit of imagination, there is no shelf-life on clothes.


It’s creating materials out of milk, tea, coffee beans and mushrooms – and even human skin, and it’s dyeing with air rather than water, printing digitally and saving valuable energy reserves and resources, minimising textile waste, recycling synthetics and transforming bamboo into thread.



If you look behind the polished veneer of the catwalk, there is a small revolution taking place in fashion and textiles – one that is shaping the future of the industry. It’s a world committed to providing leather without cows, silk without spiders and furs without foxes. It’s a renaissance of bolt threads, biocouture, biofur and cellular agriculture. It’s challenging the dirty industry of synthetic fibre production and outdated manufacturing methods used to dye and finish fabric.

Taking shape Mary Allen-Skinner, 22 from Kingswinford, was more concerned about the concept of the female body and concentrated her research

Mary created a range of clothing that concentrated on curves, using natural fabrics and tribal influences to empower women. Having worked for the retail company Evans, she realised that clothes for ‘plus’ size women seemed to lack flair and femininity.

It’s promising that, in countries like France, laws are being passed to ensure that models should be a certain weight but the fashion industry has so much more to do in terms of tackling its size and weight phobia.


Leather without cows?

A change is looming

on how the industry creates a false perception of the perfect woman. As her ideas started to take shape, she said: “The industry is all about the clothes and not about the person which has resulted in models striving to look a certain way and damaging their health.”

Feet are two sizes bigger on average than they were at the turn of the century, and breasts are four times bigger – as humans continue to evolve, shouldn’t the fashion industry cut its cloth to suit? The fashion industry is worth £26 billion to the country’s economy, according to figures published by the British Fashion Council and is estimated to support 797,000 jobs according to research by Oxford Economics.

Its survival rates are looking good – every year it churns out more and more, reams of fabric, with trends moving faster, colours changing with the seasons – but as the next generation makes attempts at breathing new life into the industry, will it take more than a dressmaker’s pin to prick its conscience into fashioning real change or will it just continue to make do and mend?

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The golden generation

Producing the next generation of gold medal winners and champions is a multi-million pound industry. James Allen reports on how the University of Wolverhampton is striving to nurture our future stars.

Future Sport “Champions aren’t made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside, a desire, a dream, a vision.” Muhammad Ali This is just one of many inspirational quotes which adorn the walls at the British Judo’s Centre of Excellence at the University’s Walsall Campus. The centre trains top young judo players with the aim of producing the medal winners for future Olympics – something the University wants to help maximise as part of its developing sports strategy. The ambition is to attract elite athletes from a range of sports in coming years, building up the reputation of the University as one for sporting excellence. Alongside top sporting facilities, courses and staff expertise, the University’s Sport Scholarship Scheme runs to aid outstanding athletes. It offers financial support of between £1,500 and £4,500, as well as access to sports science and medical assistance. Recent high profile success stories

who have been part of the scheme include British World Athletic Championship medal winner Jarryd Dunn, who is set to compete at this year’s Olympic Games in Rio. This year there are 30 students who are part of the scheme representing a range of sports. Bess Evans, the Deputy Director of Sport at the University, explains: “There are three levels of scholars from county and regional level right through to elite level with students who are competing at international level. “The scholarship programme is very important as it does attract students. For many that are selffinancing themselves through competitions it provides a vital lifeline as they have to pay for training and equipment. But it needs to be sustainable. “The more elite athletes that come here, the more other students get to rub shoulders with them and it is aspirational and acts as a good influence. “We want it to help our team’s national performance rankings,

which in turn will boost the reputation of the University for sport. “It is what sporting students look for – they want to go somewhere which has good teams, facilities and coaching.” If people were looking for an inspirational success story as far as the scholarship scheme is concerned then they need to look no further than Jack Hodgson. The 19-year-old BSc Sports Coaching student is in his first year at the University and is part of the British Judo programme at Walsall. Jack suffers from Usher Syndrome, a degenerative condition which means he is partially sighted and profoundly deaf. In February he was named as part of the Team GB judo squad that will compete in the Paralympics in Rio later in the year. He said: “My biggest honour is being picked for the GB team for the Paralympics in Rio. It’s my first real year of serious competition on the international circuit and so far I’m around fourth in the world. I’m much further along in my progress than I thought I would be.

Dialogue WLV 28 Image credit: Rowland Charles Goodman

Images clockwise: Farah Aziz, Philip Awiti-Alcaraz, Jack Hodgson and Jaswant Shergill

“Now that I’ve been selected to Rio I’m going for a medal - I’d love a gold but realistically I’d be happy with a placing. “It’s made a massive difference being part of the British Judo Centre of Excellence programme. Being at the University I can train six hours a day and get the best strengthening and conditioning coaching and fantastic leadership from the coaches. “The scholarship programme gives me extra support and funding towards my training and equipment. It’s a great programme and really helps you achieve.” Another judo player who is part of the scheme is Philip Awiti-Alcaraz. The 22-year-old first year scholar, who studies BSc Sports Coaching Practice and is also part of the British Judo programme, said: “I’m hoping to get selected for Rio but my main aim is the 2020 games. I’d just love to compete at the Olympics and win a medal – it’d be a dream come true. “On an average day I’m training for five or six hours a day and in competitions most weekends. On top of that it’s my first year as a student at the University so I’m trying to strike the balance with

my studies and training. It’s a lot easier having everything on your doorstep. “The scholarship is a big help as it helped fund travel to competitions like to Korea for an Olympic qualification event.” Jaswant Shergill is studying for a Post Graduate Certificate in Education in Secondary English and is currently working at a local school on placement as part of his course. The 23-year-old from Oldbury is the reigning English senior weightlifting champion in the 62kg category, having taken the title in January. He said: “My Dad was a weighlifter and I just started off doing it recreationally for fitness and then started entering competitions. “I’ve competed at the Commonwealth Games for England in Glasgow in 2014. My goal is to compete for Team GB at the Olympics in 2020 and go for a gold at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. “I train six times a week doing two hour sessions. It’s physically and mentally taxing – you have to have the willpower as well as the mental strength.

“I’ve had to make a lot of sacrifices. I don’t go out a lot due to my studies and training regime. Most days I often don’t get home until 10pm at night from the gym. It’s often a hard balance with all the late nights and having to plan lessons.” Second year Pharmacy student Farah Aziz is just returning to tennis after a serious shoulder injury. Farah, age 20 from Newcastle, has been playing the sport for 10 years and was number one ranked in the UK between the ages of 16 and 18. “I’ve been competing at international level since I was 14 and made the semi-finals of a number of tournaments. When I finished school I decided to take a year out to give tennis a real go but it was during that year that I was playing in Egypt and injured my shoulder. “Since then I have started my course and it is very challenging but I’m recovered from my injury and getting back into my tennis. “The scholarship programme really helped. As well as funding for equipment, it helped me access physio support when I was injured and get me back on track.”

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INPICTURES... 01 - 05 Lord Baker visits the University-sponsored Health Futures University Technical College in West Bromwich as part of its official opening. 06 - 07 The University signs a new partnership with banking group Santander to provide greater employability opportunities for students. 08 - 10 Head of Engineering Paul Lister marks his retirement from the University.



11 - 14 Guests enjoy the launch of the Centre of African Entrepreneurship and Leadership. 15 - 18 Nursing students celebrate their graduation with a lamp-lit procession special service at St Peter’s Church in Wolverhampton.



19 - 24 The University and its Chancellor Lord Paul marked the renaming of two of its flagship City Campus buildings – The Wulfruna Building and the Ambika Paul Building.



THANKYOU... To everyone involved in creating the latest edition of Dialogue. Thanks to the editorial team of Catherine Bailey, Emma Pugh, Claire Tallentire and Mags Winthrop and to our resident design queen Kulbir Entwistle. Thanks also go to proofing king Luke McNaney and our main photographer Steve Hall of Hall Image Photography.


There were some great academic contributions in this edition from Aidan Byrne, Steve Iafrati and Tom Hartley. We’ll be back in the summer for the Olympic edition! James Allen Dialogue WLV Editor



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WLV Dialogue - Spring 2016  
WLV Dialogue - Spring 2016