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NETWORK UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER ALUMNI MAGAZINE 2020

MO ABUDU

MEDIA MOGUL, ENTREPRENEUR AND WONDER WOMAN

SCIENCE OR FICTION? HOW TO SPOT BOGUS SCIENCE STORIES AND READ THE NEWS LIKE A SCIENTIST

ILLUSTRATING SUCCESS ALUMNUS JAMES WARD DRAWS INSPIRATION FROM ANIMALS


WELCOME FROM THE ALUMNI RELATIONS LEAD

WELCOME

Welcome to the 2020 edition of Network magazine. A particularly warm welcome to members of the Class of 2020 who are reading this. You may have graduated from Westminster, but your involvement as a member of the University’s alumni community is only just beginning. If you haven’t already, please do join the Westminster Connect online hub. This is your gateway to staying connected to us and each other: westminsterconnect.org There is no doubt that Westminster alumni go on to achieve extraordinary things. In this edition of Network, we are delighted to bring you a selection of stories which illustrate the amazing and important contributions our alumni make to our world. You can marvel at the achievements of Mo Abudu, who has revolutionised the way Africa is portrayed in the mainstream media. Then there’s James Ward, whose illustrations and iconic artwork adorn shelves in many homes. You can also meet this year’s Westminster Alumni Award winners, who between them, have made incredible waves around the world in their respective industries.

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We love hearing your stories and encourage you to continue sharing your news with us, so we can join in celebrating your successes. I’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of you who have supported our students over the past year. Hundreds of you have given your expertise to mentoring a student, giving a careers talk, or to donating to various student projects, to name just a few examples. Now more than ever, we rely on the support of our alumni to help our students to prosper. If you think you could offer a student some careers insight in the coming year, no matter what industry you are part of or professional path you have taken, please do get in touch. There are a number of opportunities waiting for you to further your own skills and networks too. Wherever you are in the world, I hope this magazine finds you safe and well as we learn to adapt to the challenges the pandemic brings. Stay involved and in touch. Laura Hughes Alumni Relations Lead


CONTENTS

CONTENTS 4

IN TOUCH

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A selection of comments, posts and tweets from our global alumni community

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BEING WESTMINSTER

An update from our Vice-Chancellor and President, Dr Peter Bonfield

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NETWORK NEWS

This year’s top news stories from across the University, including the latest research, alumni achievements and the response to COVID-19

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WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARDS 2020

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Professor Guy Osborn and Dr Matt Morrison have big plans to restore the Soho Poly and ‘disrupt the everyday’

We catch up with a couple of this year’s winners to find out what receiving the award means to them

WESTMINSTER IN TASHKENT

Lobar Babakhodjaeva, Dean of Teaching and Learning at our partner university in Uzbekistan, tells us about life in Tashkent

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LET’S TALK ABOUT INTERSEX Alumnus Anick Soni on his journey as an intersex campaigner

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REIMAGINING THE SOHO POLY

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ILLUSTRATING SUCCESS

Alumnus James Ward, founder of Jimbobart, on making a living out of drawing animals

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BRANDS MAY SUPPORT BLACK LIVES MATTER, BUT ADVERTISING STILL NEEDS TO DECOLONISE

Senior Lecturer Carl W. Jones discusses the role which advertising can play in supporting BLM

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CLASSNOTES

The latest from our alumni around the world

‘MY CAREER HAS BEEN A REAL JOURNEY’

We speak to alumna, Hon Doc and Nigerian media mogul Mo Abudu about her success, ambition and remarkable career

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MADE TO LAST

Fashion alumnae Manimekala Fuller and Amelie Marie Gaydoul discuss the dark truths of fast fashion

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HOW TO SPOT BOGUS SCIENCE STORIES

Senior Lecturer Doug Specht on how to read the news like a scientist, and separate facts from fiction

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UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER ALUMNI MAGAZINE 2020 Editor: Jenny Stubberfield Contributors: Laura Hughes, Julia Ross and David Brooks. Thanks to all alumni, staff, students and supporters who have contributed to this issue. Cover: Original photography by TY Bello Images: Getty Images Print: Gemini Print Alumni Relations Office University of Westminster 32– 38 Wells Street London W1T 3UW T: +44 (0)20 3506 6245 E: alumni@westminster.ac.uk

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IN TOUCH

IN TOUCH WELCOME CLASS OF 2020

Congratulations to all our students who are graduating this year! You have made it this far and we are very proud of your achievements.

a one-off conversation with one of our experienced professionals from our diverse and hugely talented pool of mentors.

As a member of Westminster’s Class of 2020, you can access an exclusive careers support package to help your ongoing career journey. No matter what subject you have studied, sector you wish to enter or career planning stage you are at, there is support for you. Here is a summary of the benefits you can access.

EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES

HANDPICKED ONLINE RESOURCES You can access a range of online tutorials and practical employment advice to provide support at all stages of your career planning. 121 CAREERS ADVICE Book a 20-minute or 45-minute remote career appointment with one of our extremely knowledgeable and friendly team of career consultants. ASK-A-MENTOR Sign up to the Ask-a-Mentor service, which gives you an opportunity to have

KEEP IN TOUCH WITH WESTMINSTER CONNECT

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Find out about the latest graduate jobs, internships and volunteering opportunities the University can offer you. INVITATIONS TO NETWORK Attend university events specially tailored to your career needs, including the award-winning ‘What It Takes’ alumni event series, careers events and workshops. ENTERPRISE Access the Creative Enterprise Centre’s wide range of opportunities, services and resources to develop your entrepreneurial skills, progress in your professional freelancing career and start your own businesses. Unlock your Class of 2020 career support package here: westminster.ac.uk/classof2020

Westminster Connect is an online platform, exclusively for graduates of the University of Westminster. Reconnect with fellow alumni, access your alumni benefits, share events and updates, and much more.

DOWNLOAD THE APP Westminster Connect is also available to download as an app for mobile devices.

REGISTER NOW Sign up at westminsterconnect.org and register via LinkedIn (recommended), Facebook or by email. Whichever way you choose to sign up, you can always sync details from your social media accounts by clicking on account settings and the ‘Connect’ button next to the relevant logo.

For Apple devices, search ‘Graduway Community’ in the App Store. Once this is downloaded, search for ‘Westminster Connect’ to install the platform on to your device.

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For Android devices go to Google Play and search for ‘Westminster Connect’.

Join your global Westminster community online at westminsterconnect.org


IN TOUCH

STAY CONNECTED University of Westminster Alumni Association @uw_alumni University of Westminster Alumni Association

@

I had two of the best years of my life studying Audio Production at the University of Westminster. I’m now truly honoured to be announced a finalist for the 2020 University of Westminster Alumni Association Contribution to the Creative Industries Award and am so very, very grateful for everyone that’s taken a moment to put in a good word for me.

westminster.ac.uk

#westminster #audioproduction #wearewestminster

alumni@westminster.ac.uk

Andy Brook, (Audio Production, 2007)

Alumni Relations Office University of Westminster 32– 38 Wells Street London W1T 3UW

Extremely proud and delighted to have been nominated and shortlisted to the final for the Mentor of the Year Award for year 2019/2020! We are delighted to be supporting additional care experienced students this year at @UniWestminster, helping to ease some of the financial burden at this difficult and uncertain time. @uw_alumni Sir John Cass’s Foundation, @SJCFGrants

Thank you to my mentee Stephanie Coelho, University of Westminster and Career Mentoring Team for nominations and this wonderful opportunity! Brilliant to see my mentee shortlisted for Mentee of the Year Award too! Looking forward to the Awards celebration event/final! Lukas Skowron, (Tourism Studies, 2013)

Really grateful to have received my Mentoring certificate from my Alma Matter @uniwestminster! I’ve loved volunteering for the Uni which has inspired me to follow my dreams & I’ve enjoyed mentoring two young ladies who wish to do the same. Proud @uw_alumni! Christina Alagaratnam, @ChrissyA_92 (English Literature and Creative Writing, 2014)

Our @UniWestminster alumni across the world give so generously their time to #westminsterworkingcultures – and the students gain so much as a result. A huge thank you to them and to our hardworking @uw_alumni team too! Alex Hughes, @alex_ah60, (Deputy Vice Chancellor, Global Engagement and Employability at University of Westminster)

ARE YOU MAKING THE MOST OF YOUR ALUMNI BENEFITS? • Save 15 per cent on a Masters or PhD course at Westminster with your exclusive alumni discount • Kick-start your career with free careers support for three years after you graduate • Enjoy a vast library of online books and journals on JSTOR with your alumni access • Expand your network, browse job opportunities and share your news on westminsterconnect.org • Access university buildings and libraries with an Alumni Card

Feels amazing to be back at my former Uni, @UniWestminster for a session on Digital Skills. Well done for @uw_alumni for arranging. Can’t wait for more! Haydn Evans, @Haydn_1992 (Real Estate Development, 2017)

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• Receive discounts on gym membership, room hire, summer accommodation and more Log in to Westminster Connect to access your benefits, or find out more: westminster.ac.uk/alumni-benefits

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BEING WESTMINSTER

BEING WESTMINSTER When I first joined the University as Vice-Chancellor and President in 2018, I pledged that the wellbeing, health and safety of our students, colleagues and University community were at the top of my agenda. In 2020, our wellbeing is more important than it has ever been.

I write to you at a time when the world is facing unprecedented challenges. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is being felt by all of us and will no doubt have affected you in many different ways. Above all else, I hope that you and your families are safe and well. And for those of you who are on the ‘front line’ in the fight against the virus, a heartfelt thank you for all you are doing. With challenge comes opportunity, and I am enormously proud of the way in which the University of Westminster community has come together to demonstrate our values of being compassionate, progressive and responsible, through our collective response to the pandemic over the past few months. As COVID-19 took hold earlier this year, we immediately created a digital ‘twin’ of our University. Our educational programme went wholly online to enable our 22,500 or so students and colleagues to work remotely in the UK and around the world. As we begin the new academic year, our students will be able to learn through a combination of digital, safe physical and blended solutions. We also established an array of initiatives to help all our students in

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need, which you have supported in your masses. Our COVID-19 Response Fund appeal raised over £360,000 to help our most vulnerable and deserving students in the wake of the pandemic, to ensure they could continue to reach their true potential regardless of the obstacles they faced. This included supporting students who had lost their part-time jobs, and those who faced sudden difficulty in paying for day-to-day living costs including rent,

The opportunities created through your support are a really inspiring illustration of what makes us Westminster. I am deeply grateful to our amazing network of alumni and friends whose invaluable volunteering and generous donations have helped our students and their wellbeing at this time. For members of the Class of 2020 who are reading this, I know how disappointing it was that we were not able to hold our graduation ceremonies

“THE UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER IS AN EXCEPTIONAL ORGANISATION. WE HAVE A PROUD HISTORY, A UNIQUE SPIRIT AND A CONFIDENT SHARED DIRECTION FOR THE JOURNEY AHEAD” food or medical costs. Laptops were provided through our ‘Stay Connected Scheme’ to those students who needed them to study remotely, while the ‘Stay Sheltered Scheme’ offered accommodation bursaries for our overseas students who could no longer return to their home country over the summer holidays.

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in July at the Royal Festival Hall. We still plan to hold these during 2021, when we hope social distancing measures and freedom to travel will allow all of us to share in these celebrations together. In the meantime, the University is here to provide you with resources and guidance to help


BEING WESTMINSTER

you prepare for your future career. If you haven’t already, please do take advantage of your Class of 2020 careers support package: westminster.ac.uk/classof2020 Despite the questions and uncertainties brought about by the pandemic, I am confident about our

future. The University of Westminster is an exceptional organisation. We have a proud history, a unique spirit, and a confident shared direction for the journey ahead. I look forward to many continued collaborations with our alumni and supporter network. In the meantime,

I encourage all of us to show compassion to each other, and to look out for our individual and collective wellbeing at a time when it matters so very much. Best wishes Peter

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NETWORK NEWS

NETWORK NEWS

UNIVERSITY OF WESTMINSTER STATEMENT ON BLACK LIVES MATTER On 25 May 2020, George Perry Floyd died in Minneapolis at the hands of the police. His death has been the catalyst for protest and action across the world and has brought to light the prevalence of systemic racism, racialised inequality and injustice, not just in the USA but in the UK and the world. As these events have unfolded we have been doing a lot of self-reflection and much discussion has gone on among students and colleagues about how to respond to and address these issues. Finding the right way forward and the words to say has been difficult but it is essential. Difficult or not, for our university in particular, this is hugely important, and we must commit to doing better and to continuing these conversations and taking actions. As a community of people from a multitude of different racial, ethnic, national and religious backgrounds, the University of Westminster, our Students’ Union, UCU, Unison and our BME,

LGBTIQ, and Women of Westminster networks stand with the Black Lives Matter movement and wholeheartedly against racism in all forms. We acknowledge that we are an institution where many of us benefit from white privilege and we know there is much to learn and much more for us to do to address and dismantle institutional racism. It is our most solemn wish that everyone within our community feels safe, heard, valued, respected and encouraged. Wellbeing is at the heart of everything we do, and inclusivity and ensuring that all our colleagues and students are supported to reach their full potential are core to this. There is a lot of work to do and we want to get these steps right and continue our conversations for ongoing change. For instance, we invited BME colleagues and our Students’ Union to help us identify key challenges they face and what action they would

suggest we take as a university. Our BME Network and the Students’ Union have drawn up a list of ideas for a way forward towards an anti-racist university, and we are committed to working together to put ideas into action. The current media focus already seems to be waning, but for us it was never the start and we will not let it be the end of this work. It is a moment for us to reaffirm together that racism has no place at Westminster, to listen to the experiences of our Black colleagues and students, and to be clear that there is both the desire and readiness to take positive action at Westminster.

To read the full Black Lives Matter statement and see our published commitment plan, visit: westminster.ac.uk/news/universityof-westminster-statement-on-blacklives-matter

WESTMINSTER IS FIRST LONDON UNIVERSITY TO BE AWARDED THE SOCIAL ENTERPRISE MARK This internationally recognised accreditation provides an independent guarantee that the University has met sector-agreed criteria and is operating as a genuine social enterprise, committed to creating positive social change. The School of Organisations, Economy and Society, along with Westminster Business School, has taken the lead on the University’s application for the Social Enterprise Mark, working closely with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) team. Talking about the award, Head of Corporate Social Responsibility Andy

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Norris said: “At Westminster, we have a whole institution holistic approach to social responsibility to enable us as a truly inclusive university to make a

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measurable change for good to the wellbeing, health, culture and progression of our colleagues, students, local and internal communities.”


NETWORK NEWS

FORMER STUDENT WINS MERCURY PRIZE AND NOMINATED FOR TWO BRIT AWARDS The third studio album of Michael Kiwanuka, a former student of the Commercial Music Performance BMus Honours course, has been awarded the Mercury Prize, an annual music prize that celebrates the best albums of British musicians. Earlier this year, Kiwanuka was also nominated for two Brit Awards, including British Male Solo Artist and British Album of the Year. He has previously won the BBC Sound of 2012 and has been nominated for two MOBO awards. His song ‘Cold Little Heart’ serves as the opening theme for the HBO miniseries Big Little Lies, and in 2017, his critically acclaimed album Love & Hate reached number one in the UK albums chart.

WESTMINSTER MENSWEAR ARCHIVE LAUNCHED THE LARGEST EXHIBITION OF MENSWEAR IN THE UK In October 2019, the University of Westminster Menswear Archive staged an extensive exhibition of menswear in the University’s exhibition space, Ambika P3. Drawing exclusively from Westminster Menswear Archive, Invisible Men covered the last 120 years of predominantly British menswear through the display of over 170 garments, the majority of which had never been seen on public display. The four-week exhibition was arranged into twelve sections, presenting designer garments alongside military, functional and utilitarian outfits. It explored the design language of menswear, which focuses predominantly on the replication of archetypal functional garments intended for industrial, technical or military use.

Photo credit: David Freeman

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NETWORK NEWS

YOUTH HOMELESS CHARITY CEO GILLIAN BOWEN AWARDED HONORARY DOCTORATE

Gillian Bowen JP was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters by the University in recognition of her substantial contribution to the youth and voluntary sector. The award was made at the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ 2019 autumn graduation ceremony,

which took place in November at the Royal Festival Hall. Gillian Bowen is the Chief Executive Officer at City YMCA, London, a charity which specialises in housing services for homeless young people aged 16–25, and which delivers a range of youth support

and health services to vulnerable and at-risk youth aged 12–25. She is currently leading the completion of a £20m housing development for homeless young people in London, the first of its kind to be built in the last decade. Gillian is a Justice of the Peace and presides in the Adult and Youth Court for the Central London Bench. She also holds the position of Deputy Youth Panel Chair for the North and Central London region. She completed her Master of Business Administration course at the University of Westminster in 2003. Professor Andrew Linn, Pro ViceChancellor and Head of College, said in his citation: “The young people of Gillian’s alma mater are among those countless numbers who thank Gillian for her relentless passion to provide more, for her desire to share her talents with others and for others, and for her unshakeable drive to let others know that they are not alone.” Other recipients of Honorary Awards at the autumn ceremonies included property specialist Amanda Clack and renowned photographer John Swannell.

ALUMNUS APPOINTED AS ARCHBISHOP OF YORK Stephen Cottrell, a Media and Communication alumnus of the University, has been officially confirmed as the Archbishop of York; the second most senior clerical position in the Church of England after the Archbishop of Canterbury. Cottrell opted to train in the ministry after graduating from the Polytechnic of Central London in 1981 and was ordained as a priest in 1985. On 9 July this year, Cottrell was confirmed as the 98th Archbishop of York. The service, which was due

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to happen in York Minster, took place and was broadcast via video conference due to COVID-19 restrictions. Commenting on the service, Archbishop Cottrell said: “I am looking forward to beginning my ministry as the 98th Archbishop of York. This isn’t quite how I imagined it would begin. It is certainly the first time an Archbishop’s election will have been confirmed via video conference. But we’re all having to re-imagine how we live our lives and how we inhabit the world. These are difficult times.”

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NETWORK NEWS

WESTMINSTER PACES FORWARD IN NATIONAL STUDENT SURVEY PROVING ENHANCED STUDENT SATISFACTION

Our commitment to providing exceptional education has been recognised by an enhanced overall student experience score in the 2020 National Student Survey (NSS). Westminster students have scored the University higher on the areas of Overall Satisfaction, Assessment and Feedback, Teaching, Student Voice and

Academic Support when compared to last year’s survey, whereas the sector at large saw decreased NSS scores in these categories this year. Compared to similar London institutions, Westminster has achieved the largest improvement in Overall Satisfaction and Teaching compared to last year’s NSS.

The Animation BA Honours and Sociology BA Honours courses achieved a whopping 100 per cent overall student satisfaction score, while the Master of Architecture (MArch) (RIBA pt II), Criminology BA Honours, Biochemistry BSc Honours and English Literature BA Honours courses all scored an outstanding 95 per cent or above.

SMOKE RADIO DOMINATES AT THE STUDENT RADIO ASSOCIATION AWARDS Westminster’s student radio won a phenomenal eight awards at the SRA’s 2019 Awards, including the Best Student Radio Station. The event, which took place at the O2 in November, was supported by BBC Radio 1 and was attended by industry stars Scott Mills, Charlie Hedges and Angela Scanlon. Other awards won included: Best Interview, Best Podcast and Best Event or Outside Broadcast. As part of the

win for Best Student Radio Station, some of the students from Smoke Radio had the chance to host their own shows on BBC Radio 1 over Christmas. Pulama Kaufman, last year’s Station Manager, said about the achievement: “Winning eight awards at the Student Radio Awards this year was absolutely incredible and a wonderful recognition for all of the hard work the Smoke Radio team put in last year. Our aim last year was to make content that

reflected the interests and lives of the students of Westminster and I am so proud of the work we achieved.”

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NETWORK NEWS

ILLUSTRATION ALUMNUS SHORTLISTED FOR EUROPEAN CARTOON AWARD 2020 Ben Jennings, who graduated from the Illustration BA Honours course in 2012, has been shortlisted for a European Cartoon Award 2020 for his cartoon entitled ‘Extinction’, originally published by the i newspaper. Ben Jennings is a UK-based cartoonist and illustrator who has produced work

for a variety of clients including the i newspaper, The Guardian and Penguin Books. His style often tackles tricky topics with bold imagery, social comment and metaphor, as well as light-hearted satirical work. His work has been published in various books, and he has contributed to exhibitions in London, Oxford, Paris,

WESTMINSTER PLACES FOURTH IN THE UK FOR INTERNATIONAL OUTLOOK The University has held its place ranking fourth in the UK for International Outlook in the 2020 table, also placing 32nd for International Outlook globally. The Times Higher Education’s Young University league table lists the world’s best universities that are aged 50 or

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younger. The 2020 ranking includes 414 universities, up from 351 in 2019. With more than 6,000 students from 165 countries, staff from across the globe and a highly international alumni community, the University of Westminster embraces global engagement in all forms.

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Hanover and Berlin. His work has also been displayed at London’s renowned Cartoon Museum. Talking about the shortlisting, Ben said: “It’s a real honour to be nominated alongside cartoonists from all over Europe and fantastic that the art of cartooning is being celebrated in such a way.”


NETWORK NEWS

RIHANNA GIVES FASHION STUDENTS DESIGN FEEDBACK AS PART OF FENTY × WESTMINSTER PROJECT Second-year students on the Fashion Design BA course have been working on a live project with Paris-based luxury fashion brand FENTY. The six-week project saw the students get regular feedback on their initial ideas, design developments, and final garments from the FENTY team in a series of tutorials and fittings held at Westminster. The project culminated with a private runway show held underground at Ambika P3, Marylebone. After watching the show, FENTY CEO and Artistic Director, Rihanna, gave each student individual feedback on their runway outfits and project designs. Photo credit: Mario Sorrenti

ALUMNUS OSCAR MURILLO AWARDED THE TURNER PRIZE 2019 Fine Art Mixed Media BA graduate Oscar Murillo won the Turner Prize 2019, alongside the other three nominees for the award. Murillo and the three other shortlisted artists were named winners after they came together and made a plea for judges to recognise “commonality, multiplicity and solidarity”. At the Turner Prize show held in Margate, Murillo installed papier-mâché worker figures on pews looking out at a sea view, obscured by a black curtain. The show was attended by over 95,000 people, making it one of the most popular Turner Prize shows held outside of London. Speaking about his experience at the University, Murillo said: “The University of Westminster was my very first experience of an incredibly supportive educational system that nurtured my desire to develop into the complexities of being an artist in today’s world.” Photo credit: Stuart Wilson, Getty Images

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COVID-19 RESPONSE NEWS

WESTMINSTER ACADEMICS USE THEIR EXPERTISE TO 3D PRINT FACE SHIELDS FOR NHS WORKERS Academic colleagues from Architecture and the Fabrication Lab on Marylebone Campus, as well as from the Emerging Media Space (EMS) on Harrow Campus, printed protective acetate visor shields for the NHS to contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19. The team joined the effort being made by designers and the maker community across the UK to use 3D printers to

manufacture parts for face shields, an essential part of personal protective equipment (PPE) for those working on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic. They joined forces with over 6,000 3D printing volunteers in a group called 3D Crowd UK to increase distribution of PPE in the medical and health services, to address the shortage of PPE in the UK during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Arthur Mamou-Mani, Lecturer in Architecture, said: “It is so beautiful to see how digital fabrication spaces are able to help during a crisis like this one. 3D printing and laser-cutting are enabling factories to come back to our cities, empowering (and protecting) people. We hope this will inspire people to engage with these technologies, enabling the materialisation of more life-saving items.”

WESTMINSTER FASHION STUDENTS SEW SCRUBS SETS FOR THE NHS Fashion Design BA students sewed over 120 scrubs sets, in addition to non-surgical masks and scrub bags, for their local NHS hospitals to help the fight against COVID-19. The 20 Fashion students involved were led by Christine Ha, a placement year Fashion Design student from the US. Christine explained what inspired her to set up the project group:

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“I worked in a hospital prior to my BA Fashion Design degree and most of my family are medics and critical care nurses, so this pandemic felt uncomfortably close to home. This anxiety, combined with the isolation I felt during the early days of quarantine, pushed me to find ways to co-ordinate the incredible making skills that Westminster students are known for.”

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COVID-19 RESPONSE NEWS

UNIVERSITY COVID-19 APPEAL RAISES OVER £360,000 TO HELP STUDENTS IN NEED DURING THE PANDEMIC Westminster’s COVID-19 Response Fund Appeal was one of the first of its kind. It was designed to support the needs of our most vulnerable students, to ensure they could continue with their studies. The Appeal is supporting a number of schemes set up by Westminster. For example, the ‘Students as Co-Creators Programme’, established by the Quintin Hogg Trust, provides roles across the University for students who lose their part-time jobs; the ‘Stay on Track Scheme’ provides financial support to students facing immediate difficulty paying for day-to-day living costs; and the ‘Stay Sheltered Scheme’ offers accommodation bursaries, which were especially important for overseas students who could no longer return to their home country over the summer holidays. Many existing donors generously donated additional income to support Westminster students, and the University has seen a substantial increase in firsttime donors wishing to show their support.

WESTMINSTER ALUMNUS-LED VACCINE MANUFACTURER SET TO PLAY LEADING ROLE IN LARGE-SCALE PRODUCTION OF COVID-19 VACCINE Westminster alumnus Adar Poonawalla, the CEO of the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, Serum Institute of India, is leading the large-scale manufacturing of the University of Oxford’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate, which will be distributed if the vaccine proves to be safe and effective in the ongoing clinical trials. Poonawalla, who graduated from Westminster’s Business Studies – Services BA Honours course in 2002, has led his company to enter into a manufacturing partnership with AstraZeneca to produce 100 million doses of the vaccine for countries around the world. To make sure the vaccine reaches the population as soon as possible, the Serum Institute

of India has already started the production of the vaccine, and these doses will be distributed in 58 countries,

including India and several African countries, after the clinical trials conclude successfully.

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RESEARCH NEWS

FIVE THINGS WE LEARNT THIS YEAR Despite restrictions this year, the University has continued to conduct world-leading, impactdriven research across a diverse range of disciplines. Here is a glimpse at just five of the many discoveries made by our research community this year.

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FOOD CHOICES CAN SIGNIFICANTLY AFFECT YOUR MOOD Global Public Health Nutrition MSc student Joanna Leeds led a study which identified food choices as a significant factor affecting women’s mood across London. The study, in which participants were interviewed through focus groups, explored the relationship between food and mood, against the backdrop of increased mental health and nutrition awareness within public health and scientific discourses. Women identified a number of factors as influencing their food choices and the effect of food intake on their moods. The findings indicated that the food-mood relationship is intertwined in a complex web of factors as women respond to individual, environmental, cultural and social cues.

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SNACKING ON ALMONDS IMPROVES YOUR HEART HEALTH Dr Brandon Whitcher, Senior Imaging Scientist, and Dr Nicolas Basty, Research Fellow, from the Research Centre for Optimal Health worked on the study along with academics from King’s College London to see if almonds had any impact on markers of cardiometabolic health in adults aged 30 –70 at above-average risk of heart disease. The study was a six-week randomised controlled trial where, following a two-week period before the trial in which the participants consumed control snacks such as mini-muffins, participants consumed either whole roasted almonds or control snacks. The results of the study showed that whole almonds consumed as snacks markedly improved endothelial function, in addition to lowering LDL cholesterol, in adults with above-average risk of heart disease.


RESEARCH NEWS

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CAST-OFF PARTS OF OUR GENETIC MATERIAL COULD HELP PREDICT THE OUTCOME OF COVID-19 Dr Pinar Uysal-Onganer, Senior Lecturer in Molecular Biology, led a study which identified that small cast-off parts of our genetic material known as microRNAs (miRs) can be used to predict the outcome of COVID-19-related diseases. The study suggests that using a small and specific number of molecules to inhibit specific miRs (which are tiny sequences of molecules that are vital to our development, growth and survival) will increase the likelihood of the development of new treatment options. This could therefore lead to the creation of a new group of biological measures for COVID-19 diagnosis and predict the likely outcome of the virus by informing COVID-19-related interactions between genes in cellular responses to infection.

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MUSIC LISTENED TO IN OUR YOUNGER YEARS DEFINES US FOREVER Professor Catherine Loveday, neuropsychologist at the University of Westminster, led research which analysed the music choices of guests on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs and found that the music we listen to between the age of 10 and 30 defines us for the rest of our lives. Music from this time, which the researchers call the ‘self-defining period’, connects an individual to the people, places and times that are significant to their identity. Half of all musical choices were seen to be important between the age of 10 and 30, a period that has been commonly known as the ‘reminiscence bump’. However, this new study reveals that it is more helpful to think of this period as a ‘self-defining period’ because it is characterised by enduring memories that support our sense of who we are. This suggests that listening to music is typically a key feature of this age and that music is also intrinsically linked to the developing self.

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CANNABIS OIL MAKES ANTIBIOTICS MORE EFFECTIVE Dr Sigrun Lange, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, led a major study revealing that cannabis oil (CBD) can increase the effectiveness of antibiotics. The study is the first of its kind to assess the supposed effects of CBD on the release of membrane vesicles (MVs) – components that are released from bacteria and can transfer material for bacterial communication as well as functioning as traps for antibiotics. The team tracked the release of the membrane vesicles from the bacteria with and without CBD, and confirmed that CBD both affected the number of MVs released as well as the structure of the MVs released from bacteria. Speaking about the study, Dr Lange said: “Our findings highlight that CBD application, in conjunction with antibiotic treatment, may be an interesting adjunct to the development of novel treatment to help reduce antibiotic resistance, especially given that antibiotic resistance is on the rise and predicted to be a global health disaster.”

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WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARDS 2020

WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARDS 2020 Westminster Alumni Awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding achievements of graduates from the University of Westminster, as well as from our predecessors including the Polytechnic of Central London and Regent Street Polytechnic. The awards have now been running for three years, and in that time they have highlighted the variety of ways our graduates make a real impact across the globe. This year, we received hundreds of strong submissions about the amazing things our alumni are doing, and senior staff from across the University had the challenging task of choosing just three finalists in each of our six categories. Almost 7,000 people from around the world then took part in a public vote to choose your six winners. Here we present the winners of the Westminster Alumni Awards 2020.

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LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

PROFESSOR CHRISTOPHER EVANS SCIENCE BSC, 1976

Dr Christopher J. Evans is Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and holds the Stefan Hatos Chair for Neuropharmacology. He received his BSc from the Polytechnic of Central London in 1976 and his PhD from the Medical Research Council Institute and Imperial College in London. He completed his postdoctoral training at Stanford University and accepted a faculty position at UCLA, where he continued his research on the opioid system. His research accomplishments have included the identification and characterisation of several novel endogenous opioids or endorphins/ enkephalins; the cloning of the first opioid receptor; and formative studies demonstrating opioid agonist bias. Dr Evans has published over 220 peer-reviewed publications, predominantly related to opioid neurobiology, and he has over 11,600 citations of his research papers.


WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARDS 2020

ENTREPRENEURIAL AWARD

LETTIJA LEE LAW LLB, 2006

CONTRIBUTION TO THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES AWARD

JOSHUA BAKER

CONTEMPORARY MEDIA PRACTICE BA, 2012 Since 2012, Josh has built a remarkable career in documentary journalism. He has dedicated himself tirelessly to investigating stories that focus on humanitarian issues; often from some of the world’s most dangerous conflicts. He has been nominated for two Emmy Awards, and shortlisted for three Grierson Awards and eight other awards for reporting and directing films on topics that range from the fall of ISIS, to sex work in the UK, and the plight of refugees. This year alone his films with Louis Theroux and Stacey Dooley have been watched by over three million people. Josh is the first in his family to go to university, and at just 30 years old he has not only built an incredible career in the creative arts but has dedicated himself passionately to telling the stories that must be told and helping to protect the journalists that tell them.

Working as a paralegal at the global live events company Live Nation, Lettija developed a love for attending music festivals. At Wireless Festival in 2012, she noticed a lot of plastic waste including rain ponchos, and the eco-warrior in her decided to look into alternatives to plastic ponchos. She found a factory that supplied 100 per cent biodegradable and compostable material, which could be used to make biodegradable rain ponchos. With her law school loan and LLB loan to repay, Lettija was determined to keep start-up costs down. She taught herself basic coding and built her website herself. Using her knowledge of intellectual property law and an intensive course in brand management, she registered her chosen brand name, Peco Poncho, as a UK trade mark and registered the company. In the years

that followed, Peco Poncho has supplied numerous brands including Virgin, Savills, Net-a-Porter and The Royal Collection (Buckingham Palace gift shop).

SOCIAL IMPACT AWARD

JOHN BERT MACATO INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT MANAGEMENT MA, 2015

Before John began at the University of Westminster, he was a survivor of Typhoon Haiyan. The typhoon desolated 95 per cent of infrastructure and 10,000 people perished. Right there and then, John decided to give back to humanity. With support from Westminster’s Disaster Regeneration Fund, his postgraduate degree gave him the leverage to handle projects in protracted armed conflicts. He joined the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and for the past five years, has been doing his part in protecting civilians affected by armed conflict; especially vulnerable groups such as women and children. John manages hospital projects of the ICRC in countries including Pakistan, Nigeria and Syria.

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WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARDS 2020

RECENT GRADUATE AWARD

ETHEL TAMBUDZAI

DEVELOPMENT STUDIES AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS BA, 2018 Following her graduation from Westminster in 2018, Ethel founded Tambu Group, a consulting firm which led her to introduce investments in renewable energy and infrastructure across emerging markets, working with clients from South Africa, Georgia, the Caribbean and the UK. Additionally, she co-founded Sonaaar, a platform connecting Black communities around the world through arts, culture and heritage. Launched in October 2019, Sonaaar believes in the collective wealth of the afrodiaspora to self-sustain through their three ‘A’s: altruism and mentorship, amplifying voices and altering the narratives of Black experiences and achievements. We spoke to Ethel to find out a little more about her recent accomplishments: You have achieved some amazing things since graduating just two years ago – what do you personally feel is your greatest success? “This one’s difficult. With Tambu Group I really had to pull myself up by the bootstraps and turn up to meetings with investors and government officials. By getting myself into rooms where I felt like the smallest person there (at 5’2” I probably was!), I was fuelling myself with courage to walk into even bigger rooms. This was an incredible achievement for me realising that as long as I was willing to take up space I was offered, I could do anything. “On the other hand, launching Sonaaar is my greatest achievement to date, because I believe that building platforms and services for Black communities is my calling. It has taught me so much about myself, about the journey of growing your passion into an experience that others can share with you.”

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In what ways is Sonaaar contributing to the Black Lives Matter movement? “One of our three ‘A’s represents amplifying the voices of the diaspora. We have been speaking with members and our community partners around the world to hear their stories and share them across our network. We have been to Black Lives Matter protest marches, signed petitions and we are in the process of joining forces with Black businesses that have come to our attention; to improve the circulation of the Black pound/dollar/yen to rebuild the Black economy. Alongside this, we have been holding organisations we have associated with to account, by asking them about their long-term commitments to racial diversity; because it’s clear that ‘diversity of thought’ is not enough. We are also in discussions with different heritage organisations on how we can build strong and resilient institutions to support the objectives of the movement until justice is served.” What are your plans for Sonaaar over the next year? “Our focus is supporting Black communities post-lockdown. During economic downturns, Black communities are often disproportionately affected financially, socially and in relation to their access to services. We are looking to launch a digital platform that allows our members to access tools for building capital one step at a time, and learn what support is available for them when they need it.” What does it mean to you to have won a Westminster Alumni Award? “Winning the Westminster Alumni Award is like all the years I spent at Westminster running towards me and embracing me for the woman I’ve worked to become today. It feels emotional, glorious and shocks me into appreciation for myself for continuing to endure. There are lights in the tunnel, not just at the end! Thank you so much again to all who voted, it means a lot.”


WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARDS 2020

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

KOW ESSUMAN LAW LLB, 2007

Kow is admitted to practise law in England and Wales, New York State and Ghana. He holds an LLM degree from the prestigious Cornell University in New York, where he argued cases successfully before the Social Security Administration. In 2017, he was appointed by the President of Ghana as his Assistant Secretary and Counsel, to assist the Secretary to the President and act as legal adviser to the President. For two years, he lectured the law of Trusts on the University of London LLB External Programme offered by Zenith University College in Accra and tutored law students at the Ghana School of Law in Advocacy and Ethics. Kow has been voted the Most Influential Young Ghanaian, nominated as one of 100 Most Influential People of African Descent and one of 100 Most Influential Young Africans. We caught up with Kow to learn some more about his achievements: What do you pinpoint as your biggest professional achievement? “At this point in my career, it has to be being appointed by the President of Ghana as Assistant Secretary and Counsel in his office, because the President himself, being one of Ghana’s very accomplished lawyers with many years of experience, would consider a number of factors before choosing a legal adviser in his office. Therefore,

for the President to appoint me to this office and in this capacity shows that he is confident in my professional ability. Working as Counsel to the President is also a very rare opportunity, and has given me a unique perspective to the practice of law.” What does a typical day in the office look like for you? “Unlike my previous job where I could predict what my typical day in the office would entail, my current role does not give me that luxury. Every day brings its own challenge. It can include giving legal advice to the President, drafting a piece of legislation, reviewing documents to be sent to Parliament, responding to petitions, organising the swearing-in ceremonies of constitutional and statutory office holders, and many other exciting things. I sometimes have the opportunity to travel with the President around the country and to other countries.” What motivates you to push yourself further in your career? “I believe that God created everyone in this world to fulfil a purpose in their generation, and it is my desire to fulfil that purpose. That motivates me to continue to push myself further in my career.” What does it mean to you to have won a Westminster Alumni Award? “I consider winning the Outstanding Achievement Award a humbling experience. Being shortlisted as a finalist and then winning the public vote has proved to me that my hard work has not gone unnoticed. I thank everyone who believed in me and voted for me.“

COULD YOU WIN A WESTMINSTER ALUMNI AWARD? Look out for more information from January 2021, or visit westminster.ac.uk/westminster-alumni-awards to find out more.

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WESTMINSTER IN TASHKENT

WESTMINSTER IN TASHKENT Westminster is a proudly global institution, with a long history of international collaborations and partnerships. In 2002, the University founded the Westminster International University in Tashkent (WIUT) – the first international university in Uzbekistan to offer a Western-style education with UK qualifications. Since opening in 2002 with 120 students, WIUT has expanded to now host over 3,600 students, each of whom contribute to the global diversity of Uzbekistan and the development of Central Asian communities as a whole. We got in touch with Lobar Babakhodjaeva, Westminster alumna and Dean of Teaching and Learning at WIUT, to learn some more about the campus and the culture, and to ask how our partner university has fared during the pandemic. Firstly, can you tell us a bit about Uzbekistani culture? “Uzbekistan is a sunny country, and the sun makes people kind and very welcoming. We typically like to host friends and guests, and those invited to our houses are treated with great respect. In Tashkent, the majority of the population are youngsters, but respect towards older people is in the blood. Uzbek cuisine is also delicious. It is a mixture of Uygur, Russian and Asian food. The best kind is the street food, which ranges from very cheap and nice to expensive and luxurious.” What is your role at the University? “I have been working at Westminster International University in Tashkent in a number of different roles for the last 15 years. The experience has given me a deep insight into the teaching and learning approaches employed in the Western educational system.

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“I’ve grown professionally and learnt a lot from working with my colleagues on different educational issues. As a member of the WIUT-UoW Partnership Board, it’s a pleasure to be engaged in the ongoing development of the unique transnational education partnership between our universities. “During my academic career, my responsibilities have included those of Course Leader, Head of Research, Deputy Dean and now Dean of Teaching and Learning for the last two years. This position has given me the opportunity to develop support for student learning and the growth of graduate attributes, which is essential in the rapidly changing external environment. “As a Dean of Teaching and Learning, I hold responsibility for over 3,500 students including 1,200 at International Foundation Certificate level, over 160 academic and administrative staff and more than 40 part-time visiting lecturers. My responsibilities comprise all aspects of strategic planning for the future growth and resilience of the Faculty.” In your opinion, what makes WIUT special? “WIUT is a young and growing institution, which has already gained a high reputation internationally, as well as in the region. It’s very dynamic in its nature, but the students are what makes it special – they organise lots of clubs and social events, which makes life on campus much more interesting. We

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believe we not only teach them, but learn with them how to be creative, critical thinkers; to see the issues and solutions outside of the box. “My favourite place on campus is the Library or Learning Resources Center. It’s big and spacious, with open shelves and lots of social space for student learning. It’s informal, welcoming, and an environment where you have the freedom to learn the way that suits you. It’s loved by both staff and students. “Tashkent itself is very diverse, which is reflected in the art scene. For example, you can visit modern and classical theatres, pop concerts or art exhibitions of handmade objects. As a capital city, Tashkent has gone through major renovations lately, but you still can find old houses made from clay in the heart of the city, next to the modern, spacious business centres. In what ways has WIUT been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic? “The pandemic caught us at the end of Semester Two, so we were lucky to complete all main activities face-to-face, before moving quickly online. There were some students in rural areas who unfortunately had difficulties with access to technology, but we were still able to deliver learning and assessments online. I was quite amazed at how quickly we transitioned, and I feel very proud of my colleagues who have been creative and accommodating in their online delivery to students.”



LET’S TALK ABOUT INTERSEX

LET’S TALK ABOUT INTERSEX In his final year at Westminster, alumnus Anick Soni (Law LLB, 2017) came out as intersex. In the short time since then, he has made a significant contribution to the LGBTQIA+ community through his unwavering determination to educate society about what it means to be intersex and why we need to have more conversations about it.

“I didn’t realise sharing my story could create such radical change,” says Anick. “Telling me ten years ago that all this was going to happen wouldn’t have made any sense to me. It was such a big secret for such a long time.” The ‘secret’ Anick is referring to, is that he was born with intersex characteristics. Now, at just 25, his dedication to combatting ignorance around what this means has won him a Gay Times Honour award, an appointment as Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and the opportunity to write the first ever briefing paper on intersex for parliament, which was discussed in the House of Lords. So, what does ‘intersex’ mean? “Intersex is an umbrella term that refers to when someone is born with biological variations in their sex characteristics,” Anick explains. “So, that’s things such as our hormones, our chromosome pattern; the way our body looks on the inside and the outside. When someone is born with an intersex trait or variation, their body is different in some way to what you’d expect in typical examples of what we see as ‘male’ or ‘female’. “For example, some people may have XX chromosomes, but their body

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looks more male; or they may have more androgen, so that their chromosome pattern doesn’t match how they look on the outside. For others, like in my situation, their body doesn’t respond to androgens in the same way. So no matter how much testosterone I produce, my body doesn’t look like other male bodies, without intervention.” If this is news to you, you’re not alone. Intersex characteristics are rarely talked about and almost never taught in schools. One of the reasons being that the terminology surrounding intersex is so ambiguous. “Intersex is such a complex area because it’s a language game,” says Anick. “There’s so much medicalisation involved, and it’s so broad. Some of the characteristics that count as being ‘intersex’, actually occur in one in every three hundred boys. “But the problem is, we don’t know how many people are born with intersex characteristics, or how many ‘corrective’ surgeries are taking place, because the definitions just aren’t there. Without the information, parents are more likely to opt their child in for surgery, which is not a quick fix and can have serious repercussions throughout childhood and later life.”

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To complicate things further, in 2006 the medical profession renamed intersex as ‘Disorders (or Differences) in Sex Development’ or ‘DSD’, which was met with controversy due to the emphasis on and association with medical disorders. “I’m now working with other intersex people to establish a charity, which aims to encourage open discussions between families and medical professionals about the options available to people with intersex variations,” explains Anick. “It’s not about banning surgeries altogether, but about supporting parents so that they can make an informed decision about whether that’s right for their child.” The complexity of these issues, along with the potential impact on human rights violations, is something which Anick was able to study during his law degree at Westminster. “The first two years of my degree were fairly uneventful,” he says. “But thanks to the Distant Horizons scholarship, I spent my third year abroad and gained a whole new outlook. It’s where I found my niche, and decided to focus on topics that would help me look into intersex in greater detail.


LET’S TALK ABOUT INTERSEX

“I went to Westminster to study entertainment law, but the degree is so flexible, I was able to tailor it to study the exact areas of law that would help me make a difference. In this sense, Westminster has really shaped who I am. “I was actually in hospital for most of my final year. The majority of my lecturers had never heard of ‘intersex’ before, so there were a lot of conversations with them about what it meant, and why I would be missing so many of my classes to have surgery. But I was adamant that I would not suspend my studies, and my lecturers were very supportive. They would call me to make sure I understood everything. When I came back, I was encouraged to talk about being intersex in lecture discussions. I don’t think I would have had that amount of support elsewhere. “It was also in my final year that I became involved with the LGBTI society, and since then I have been running regular talks and screenings of my BBC documentary, The Intersex Diaries. The Vice-Chancellor even attended the first screening of my film, so I feel like I’ve always had the full support of the University.” The list of Anick’s achievements, proof of his determination, are endless. From speaking at the UN to organising the first intersex march at London Pride – he is a force for positive social change. But he still has a long way to go. “Children shouldn’t grow up hating themselves, or agreeing to surgery just to fit in,” he says. “And the more people who understand what ‘intersex’ means, the easier it will be for conversations to take place, for barriers to break down, and for the body shaming of those who look different to come to an end. “I want to see a change in the curriculum, so that when we learn about our bodies at school, we also learn about what happens when you have a body that doesn’t fit in. “Ultimately, I want systemic change. I hope there’s a time when what I’m saying is just old news, and nothing surprising.” Photo credit: Daniel Amoakoh

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REIMAGINING THE SOHO POLY

REIMAGINING THE SOHO POLY Walking along Riding House Street in Fitzrovia, it would be quite easy to mistake a small descending flight of stairs as no more than an entrance to a storeroom, and for many years that’s all it was. But the subterranean cellar it leads to, rediscovered in 2012, was once host to some of the most influential artists, writers and directors of British post-war theatre and a pioneering fixture on the London fringe. In a project championed by Westminster’s Dr Matt Morrison and Professor Guy Osborn, ambitious plans are now under way to fully restore the Soho Poly Theatre to its former glory.

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SETTING THE SCENE The Soho Theatre was founded by Fred Proud and Verity Bargate in 1968, and in 1972 took up its first permanent residence on Riding House Street in a tiny basement owned by the Polytechnic of Central London (now the University of Westminster). It was here that it became known as the Soho Poly, established itself as the leading venue for radical theatre and made a major contribution to the alternative theatre movement. Throughout the ‘70s and ‘80s, the Soho Poly was a platform for artists to push the boundaries of form and content; launching the careers of many successful actors and writers, including Hanif Kureishi, Simon Callow, Bob Hoskins, Caryl Churchill and Timberlake Wertenbaker – to name just a few. During the Soho Poly’s heyday, it developed a unique ethos, dedicated to bringing culture into the everyday by pioneering lunchtime theatre. Plays of under an hour were performed to audiences as they ate their sandwiches, making theatre far more accessible; with no expectations of dressing up or restrictions for those with childcare responsibilities. It encouraged new audiences, and by dissociating from the notion that enjoying art was simply and exclusively a ‘leisure’ activity, encouraged people to disrupt and enliven their working day by welcoming more culture into it. The theatre company moved out of the basement in 1990 and relocated to Dean Street. Now the Soho Theatre, it is one of the most successful theatres in

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London. However, the spirit of the theatre and its dedication to ‘disrupting the everyday’ has not been forgotten, and will remain the core philosophy of the Soho Poly Theatre once it is restored.

RENAISSANCE OF THE SOHO POLY Dr Matt Morrison, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing, rediscovered the Soho Poly in 2012 when conducting research for his doctorate on alternative theatre. After two decades of languishing as an abandoned storeroom, the space had to be cleared, cleaned and redecorated by a team of volunteers, before it was again recognisable as a theatre. Later that year, the three-day Soho Poly Festival was held to mark the venue’s 40th anniversary – the success of which affirmed what an asset to the community the theatre could be if fully restored. For the past eight years, Matt and Guy Osborn (Director of the Centre for Law, Society and Popular Culture), have produced and hosted an array of creative pop-up festivals and events as a means of bringing the theatre to wider attention and gaining interest in its revival. Thanks to funding from the British Academy and the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the space was re-opened once more in 2017 as part of the Being Human Festival, which again met with great success.

VISION FOR THE FUTURE The Soho basement is one of the few remaining sites of the alternative theatre


REIMAGINING THE SOHO POLY

movement and its unique ethos is largely absent in today’s art scene. The plans for the restoration, therefore, are built around a specific vision for a new community-orientated arts venue, dedicated to bringing culture into the heart of the ‘everyday’. The performances, talks and workshops – free wherever possible – will all take place across the working day, and will be open to everyone. “To me, the space is such a special one,” says Guy. “Everyone comments on it when they visit. But it’s more than a space – it’s a spirit and an ethos that reflects in many ways the radical possibilities that have always been a part of the DNA of the University of Westminster. The redevelopment and reimagining of the Soho Poly is rich with possibilities, and I for one can’t wait to see it realised.” All of this, for now, depends on whether the project receives sufficient funding to fully restore the Soho Poly and bring the accessibility and safety of the venue up to 21st-century standards. But in the bustle of central London, an area which already sees midday yoga classes, walking business meetings and lunchtime hairdressing appointments, it’s not a far stretch to believe that once again, attendees at the Soho Poly will be queuing outside the iconic door to the basement during their lunch breaks and embracing the disruption to their day. Find out more about the Soho Poly Restoration project: westminster.ac.uk/the-soho-poly-project Photo credit: University of Westminster Archive

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ILLUSTRATING SUCCESS

ILLUSTRATING SUCCESS There’s something captivating about a badger in pyjamas with a hankering for pancakes. Could it be his charming nightwear, expectant paws or the child-like relatability? Whatever the answer, alumnus and illustrator James Ward has made a successful business out of drawing it. After graduating from the Illustration BA course (now Illustration and Visual Communication) in 2008, James set up a small business, Jimbobart, in 2009. His products, including ceramics, homewares, artwork and clothing, each feature his original designs of animals mirroring all manner of human behaviours – be it wearing pants, DJing or gorging on cheese. Over the past decade, the demand for Jimbobart’s charming designs has increased, with over a thousand sales of the iconic badger pancake plate last year alone. Making a living as an artist is no mean feat, so how has James turned his love of drawing into such a successful business? “I was encouraged to draw for as long as I can remember,” he says. “When I was young, I would copy from a bird book, sketching the pictures and even writing out all the text! I always hoped to make a living out of drawing, and imagined that as long as I was producing artwork to pay the bills, I would be happy. “So I chose to study Natural History and Scientific Illustration, but having just left school, I didn’t really have enough focus. I travelled and worked for a few years before returning to my studies a bit later; that’s when I went to Westminster. “I really enjoyed my time at University. The tutors were super

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encouraging, and there was time to create a proper portfolio of work and experiment in different mediums. “The degree show was a particular highlight. The experience was so valuable, and in fact, someone who came to the show invited me to exhibit somewhere else, which led me to sell my first pieces of work. “Another highlight was meeting my best mate, Zack Mclaughlin. Since graduating, we’ve continued to push each other through friendly competition.

Photo credit: Yeshen Venema

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We’ve shared studio spaces for long periods in our careers and it has been amazing to see his work and company Paper and Wood develop. Selfemployment can be lonely, so to be able to share some of the experiences and challenges alongside him has made a big difference.” Following his degree, James took a trip to Sweden, where he was introduced to natural history surface design and was inspired by the potential in designing ceramics and


ILLUSTRATING SUCCESS

3D bears created from James’s artwork for Hyundai department stores

homeware. Returning to London, he began creating designs from his bedroom, and Jimbobart was born. “I started hand-drawing plates and selling them at markets and online. I would buy 50p plates from Tesco, draw on them, and then sell them on Etsy and at small designer-maker stores in London. It only began to feel like a successful business once I had a proper bricksand-mortar shop just off Brick Lane and was selling my products in Liberty’s.” After success at the markets, James opened the first Jimbobart shop on Columbia Road in London, before moving to a larger space in Shoreditch and eventually settling at the coast. Now each hand-designed ceramic is created in his studio and shop in Brighton. “In terms of style, I really enjoy using fineliner pens to draw animals, and one of my main influences is an Italian street artist named Ericailcane. I’ve always had an interest in wildlife too, and my favourite animal to draw at the moment would have to be guinea pigs! But the

badger plate is definitely our most popular product – I think because it conveys a childish want for pancakes that lots of us identify with. “I love hearing from customers who enjoy my products. I know it sounds corny, but if I can put a smile on someone’s face, that is the most important thing to me.” As the business has grown, in addition to the hand-designed ceramics, Jimbobart has worked with UK companies to print and produce product ranges, and designed international corporate commissions. “I’ve had the opportunity to work on some great commissions. My favourite would probably be a project I did for Hyundai department stores in South Korea. Using the artwork I supplied, they created 2D and 3D designs which featured all around the stores. They created a huge army of bears out of polystyrene and then hand-painted them all!” 2020 has been a challenging year for small businesses, but Jimbobart has been helped by its healthy online sales.

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“I have been so lucky the virus hasn’t affected my business too badly. In fact, we have been super busy with more people shopping online for gifts for each other. Unfortunately, I have had to scale back my staff to just me and my brother packing all our orders, which has been pretty hectic – but we’re making the best of it.”

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MY CAREER HAS BEEN A REAL JOURNEY

‘MY CAREER HAS BEEN A REAL JOURNEY’ For many people reading this, media mogul and entrepreneur Mosunmola Abudu (you can call her Mo!) will need no introduction. Forbes dubbed her Africa’s most successful woman; The Hollywood Reporter, one of the ‘25 Most Powerful Women in Global Television’; CNN, ‘Africa’s Oprah’. But long before her breakthrough TV show Moments with Mo or her pan-African TV channel EbonyLife TV were even in embryo, Mo had a past life as, among other things, a model, an Avon brand ambassador and an HR professional. Born in West London, but with family roots in South West Nigeria, Mo split her formative years between Nigeria and the UK, something Mo feels gave her “the best of both worlds”. “For all intents and purposes, I’m actually British, but for me I identify more with being Nigerian,” she says. “The culture of Nigeria is something that has never left me. It’s something that I’ve grown accustomed to.” Mo’s Nigerian grandmother, in particular, had a huge influence on her when she was growing up, she says, instilling in her the values of honesty, integrity and hard work. Most importantly, she says, her grandmother taught her to always be content with what she has. “Being content doesn’t mean you can’t dream of more,” she says. “Because I’ve always wanted to do big things.” When Mo embarked upon Westminster’s Manpower MA, almost 30 years ago, she was already balancing her recruitment career with caring for her young daughter.

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At the time, Westminster was one of the few universities to offer this course, she explains, and the degree of flexibility it offered was equally rare. “I’d always wanted to go to a uni where I felt a sense of freedom and I felt that you could just get into the mix and you could still manage the rest of your life at the same time,” Mo says. “I liked the fact that it was really going to be about me and the freedom to just work at uni, work at home and get the results I wanted.” After completing her Masters in 1993, Mo returned to Nigeria. As well as heading ExxonMobil’s national Human Resources and Training unit, she also established Vic Lawrence & Associates, now one of the country’s leading HR consultancies. Here, perhaps, the story could have come to an end, but for Mo it was merely a prologue. The decades that followed saw her create, produce and host her own talk show, Moments With Mo (with famous

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guests including Hillary Clinton) before launching EbonyLife TV in 2006, a network currently airing in more than 49 countries across Africa, as well as the UK and the Caribbean. Mo established EbonyLife Films in 2014. Since then, the company has produced three of Nigeria’s biggest films of all time, including Mo’s first film as executive producer, Fifty (2015), and The Wedding Party, a 2016 collaboration with The ELFIKE Collective, which became Nigeria’s highest-grossing film of all time. Following high-profile collaborations with Sony and AMC Networks (USA), EbonyLife has just signed a deal with Netflix to create original TV series and Netflix-branded films for its global streaming service. “It’s the first deal of its type ever to be signed in Africa and in Nigeria,” Mo explains. “It’s what’s called a multiple deal in that we have a slate of projects that we’re going to be rolling out over the next few years.”



MY CAREER HAS BEEN A REAL JOURNEY

At the end of last year, Mo opened Ebonylife Place: Nigeria’s first luxury entertainment and lifestyle resort in Lagos, which includes a boutique hotel, cinemas, restaurants, meeting rooms and an events space (where “you can feel the brand,” Mo explains). While you could be forgiven for calling her a queen of reinvention, Mo feels her HR and media careers are not as different as they would first appear. “Human resources is about finding talent,” she says. “It’s about nurturing talent; it’s about building talent – it’s about making sure people come out at the other end better than they were when they started.” This love of “nurturing talent” lives on in her modern-day media incarnation. “What I love about the work is the ability to discover new talent, the ability to build that talent and for them to come out as shining stars.” At a deeper level, embarking upon Moments with Mo and EbonyLife was born out of a lifelong desire to tell African stories the way they need to be told, and giving voices to those who have been marginalised and misrepresented for too long. “It’s been a long time coming, but the dream was to create content that is representative of the continent,” Mo says. “Of me as a Black woman and of Black people across the globe and, especially for Africans, and more so for Nigerians, because I am a Nigerian and that’s the culture that I understand.” The recent upsurge of Black Lives Matter and the murder of George Floyd are a poignant reminder of this. Mo believes the movement, and its current momentum, have huge potential to be a catalyst for change – particularly at this time when COVID-19 is forcing everyone to stand still for a moment and take stock. “It’s a long-overdue realisation that we have come to, and I’m glad it has happened in my lifetime,” she says. “I have a grandson who’s a few months old. I don’t want him to witness the world of inequality and injustice and fear of going

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MY CAREER HAS BEEN A REAL JOURNEY

“BLACK STORIES MATTER. WE NEED TO CHANGE THE NARRATIVE. WE HAVE A TREASURE TROVE OF STORIES ABOUT OUR CONTINENT OF AFRICA, ABOUT BLACK PEOPLE ALL OVER THE WORLD, BUT THEIR STORIES HAVE JUST NEVER BEEN TOLD” out on the streets because he may be picked up because of the colour of his skin. I want him to have the opportunities that everyone else has. And I think what has happened is there’s a consciousness that’s awakened about the fact that things need to change. And there’s a shift – I’m hoping and praying that shift is a permanent shift.” The message of Black Lives Matter, in Mo’s view, relates closely to her own mission over the past 15 years, to tell the stories of Black and African people. “It’s taken the death of this man for the world to take notice of the fact that there

needs to be change,” says Mo. “Black stories matter. We need to change the narrative. We have a treasure trove of stories about our continent of Africa, about Black people all over the world, but their stories have just never been told. I think we have the right for our stories to be told, the same as any other person in this world deserves the right to be represented and to be seen. And that’s the battle – I call it a battle because it has been a battle actually. Sort of knocking on doors and saying, ‘I’m here, hello – let me in!’” An integral challenge in this “doorknocking”, Mo says, has centred on her

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identity, not just as a Black woman, but as a Black African woman. “We’re still playing catch-up with issues of equality,” she says, of the continent. Her 30-year-old daughter, Mo tells me, recently needed her husband’s permission, by law, to renew her own passport. Mo herself has often faced backlash for “wanting to do big things”. “I have been called ‘overambitious’ by some men,” she says. “They felt ‘Why don’t you do this little thing? Why are you trying to do this big thing? Why? Look after your children!’” And what advice does she have for Westminster’s new and recent graduates reading this article, who are just now embarking upon their careers in these uncertain times? “The most important advice I can give to anyone is focus, is be consistent about the things that you want to do and find what you are most passionate about, please,” she says. “If you can’t get up in the morning to pursue that dream, then it’s not yours.” As someone who has devoted her career to vast long-term projects, Mo believes it is this “passion” which is “infectious” and sells your vision to other stakeholders and keeps you going to the end. “There’s no such thing as overnight success,” she says. “Sometimes all you see is the success after it has arrived.” Moments with Mo, for example, took three years to get off the ground; EbonyLife TV another four after that. (“Big projects take time, they really do.”) Having said that, sometimes you also need to know when to quit. Or at least to put things on hold. “I do believe in keeping at things for as long as I can possibly keep at it for – I will keep going,” she says. “But sometimes you’re going to run into a complete dead end, and when you do, it’s OK.” So, in some ways, is it more about the journey than the end result? “I don’t ever think there’s an end result,” Mo says. “As long as you have life, you are breathing, you are on a journey.”

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MADE TO LAST

MADE TO LAST

As we enter the defining decade in our fight against climate change, the fashion industry is under the spotlight. The UN estimates fashion alone generates nearly 20 per cent of global waste water and about 10 per cent of all carbon emissions. Vast numbers of trees are cleared to make space for plants and animals needed for the production of fibres used to make clothing. Farming fabrics like cotton, particularly the non-organic variety, strips soil of its nutrients and biodiversity, and uses high levels of pesticides and antimicrobials, which poison water supplies. The rise of ‘fast fashion’ has contributed significantly to the industry’s staggering carbon and landfill footprints; not to mention supply chains notorious for exploiting workers in the world’s poorest countries. Amelie Marie Gaydoul, a 2019 graduate of Westminster’s Menswear MA, does not mince her words when it comes to fast fashion on the high street. “I’m just very… I think I can say the word ‘disgusted’ now, by the sheer amount of clothing they produce and the whole availability of clothing they give to the customer,” she says. “I just find the whole approach devalues clothing so much, I mean this is why they call it ‘fast fashion’ – it has this throwaway culture.” “It’s something that I’ve struggled with,” says Manimekala Fuller, founder of the eponymous Manimekala clothing brand, who graduated from Westminster’s BA Fashion Design in 2018. “More so at

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the beginning, when I wanted to start a brand and I was struggling with the responsibility of putting more stuff in the world. “We have too much stuff and so much of it is going to waste.” So how does any young designer entering the world of fashion in the 2020s reconcile their hopes and dreams with the industry’s darker underbelly? Students can get “overwhelmed” by the enormity of this task around sustainability, Professor Andrew Groves, Professor of Fashion Design at Westminster, says. Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach, Westminster’s Fashion courses aim to help students align a sustainable mindset with their own personal professional goals. “There’s no right and wrong answer for fashion,” Andrew says. “Which means you could want to do high street or high- end couture or mass market or bespoke. You can do anything or everything.” Sustainable and ethical practices – and the impact they have – can look very different at all these different points of the pendulum. Andrew believes Westminster’s strong focus on industry experience is essential to helping every student decide for themselves how to approach sustainability. Students, Andrew adds, are often surprised by what they find.

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MADE TO LAST

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MADE TO LAST

“I think someone telling you something isn’t as powerful as experiencing something yourself,” he says. “I think internships are vital for that, because honestly the number of students who go back to that same designer and are all horrified by their processes… we know that’s going to happen, they don’t. “You’re suddenly aware it’s not as clear a picture as you might perceive.” Manimekala agrees Westminster’s industry focus gave her invaluable insight – particularly on issues like fashion’s complex and notoriously opaque supply chains (which are, in her words, “ripe for exploitation”). She has put ethics and sustainability at the heart of her brand from its early inception; working with organic, recycled and upcycled fabrics, using non-toxic dyes and making small batches. Though it is primarily a clothing brand, Manimekala also has a zerowaste accessory range: a selection of

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scrunchies and handbags made from leftover and donated fabric. “I take steps to mitigate my brand’s environmental impact,” Manimekala says. “But I really believe that the pieces we create are full of meaning and that our customers appreciate that meaning.” Manimekala works with social enterprises like Saheli Women to source textiles responsibly and support the workers who create them. She strongly believes that human welfare must be considered alongside environmental sustainability. “Something can’t be environmentally sustainable if it exploits the people that make it,” Manimekala says. “There are a lot of big companies right now that are pushing their eco-credentials, but their product is still being made by, essentially, slave labour. “That is not ‘sustainable’ in the wider definition of sustainable – sustainable means environmental, economic and social sustainability.”

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At the heart of Manimekala’s work is the vibrancy of her prints. She describes her aesthetic as “very colourful, very printed, very joyful, whimsical in a way, and very, very maximalist”. “There’s so much misery fashion causes,” she says. “I want to bring the meaning and the joy and the life back into it.” As a designer, Amelie’s aesthetic could not be more different. She has focused on menswear throughout her career, working for the likes of Givenchy and Danish brand Norse Projects. “I find womenswear too fast,” Amelie says. “It’s extremely trend-driven and, for me, womenswear is also… how can I say… too frilly?” There is a lack of functionality at the heart of traditional women’s clothing like dresses, Amelie explains. She likes pockets, superior tailoring, material that will survive the elements and – crucially – clothes built to last. At the heart of her philosophy, much


MADE TO LAST

like Manimekala, there is a sense of meaning, permanence, and a need to make clothes ‘special’ – the very antithesis of fast fashion. Amelie came to focus on sustainability for her final collection at Westminster, “by accident”, she says, when she created garments from older, reclaimed material. Sustainability is an important issue to her, she says, but she gets frustrated by how it can be manipulated by marketing teams. At its darkest edge, “greenwashing” – the practice of falsely presenting a brand as environmentally friendly – is a growing problem in the fashion industry. “A lot of fast fashion high street brands are greenwashing now,” Amelie says. “It’s hard for consumers not to fall into the trap of buying fast fashion but with a sustainable lie on top of it.” As a freelancer, Amelie says she tries to ask the right questions before she agrees to work with clients and pushes for sustainable options while she is working. In the future, she hopes to reach directorship with the right brand, where she can make meaningful changes to their sustainability policies. “I really hope to find this one place I can give my soul and creativity to and fully agree with what they’re doing,” Amelie says. Does she feel working for a larger brand would allow her to make a bigger impact? Yes and no. “I mean of course if you’re able to change things in a huge company like LVMH,” Amelie says. “Of course, you then reduce the imprint of the company … the bigger the company the bigger the changes, the bigger the results out of it. “But then I also feel like the bigger companies take the ideas from the smaller brands because the smaller brands are the ones who can make the change a lot faster.” When it comes to the future of the fashion industry, Andrew, Manimekala and Amelie all believe clothing needs to become more special and harder to come by.

Andrew’s great wish is for fashion to turn back towards a bygone era of semi-bespoke clothing. “I’ve wanted this for ages – where the customer is actually part of the design process,” he says. “You can decide what colour it is and what finish it is and it’s for your size because they’ve got production that can do that. I think people want the intimacy of that relationship.” Manimekala already offers some customisation within her zero-waste collection and agrees it makes items more meaningful. “We’ve found it’s something people are really interested in – particularly with accessories,” she says. “We’ve had requests to make bags in a different colour, which makes it so much more personal to the customer. They’ve had a creative say in their product, so they value it more.” She is hoping to explore this kind of customisation of her main clothing line in the future. COVID-19 and lockdown have inevitably changed things, at least in the

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short-term. Andrew and Manimekala both feel it has encouraged people to support and connect with local brands. With business as usual on hold, Manimekala has put together a spontaneous capsule ‘loungewear’ collection, inspired by the 2020 lockdown experience. “When I say loungewear it’s very much Manimekala loungewear,” she laughs. “There’s no point designing party dresses because nobody’s partying. Everyone’s focusing on taking care of themselves.” But is this all a blip, or could COVID-19 really change the way we dress and consume clothing? Could it really be a vehicle for positive long-term change in the fashion industry? Manimekala, Andrew and Amelie see real potential for seismic, positive change, though Amelie’s optimism is qualified. “I really hope it’s going to help and it’s going to change thanks to COVID, and I see a huge potential there,” she says. “But I am also very aware of how the industry – the huge machinery of it – makes it really hard to change gear.””

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RESEARCH

How to spot bogus science stories and read the news like a scientist In an article for The Conversation, Doug Specht, Senior Lecturer in Media and Communications, and Dr Julio Gimenez, Principal Lecturer in English Language and Academic Literacies, explain how to approach science news like a scientist, to see past the sensational and find the facts.

When fake news, misreporting and alternative facts are everywhere, reading the news can be a challenge. Not only is there plenty of misinformation about the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and other scientific topics floating around social media, you also need to read science stories, even in well-known publications, with caution. In a recent study, we and our colleagues analysed 520 academic papers alongside the media articles that reported their findings. We wanted to trace how the presentation of scientific knowledge changes as it makes its way from researchers to the general public via the media. We found that scientific knowledge is sometimes reproduced, but is most often reinterpreted and its meaning is frequently lost in translation. Based on this study, we think there are some key things that readers of the news can do to spot when science is being reported in a misleading or inaccurate way, and get to what the evidence really shows.

REINTERPRETED TRUTHS In our research, we saw that content transformation can happen in a number of ways. The main focus of a study is often changed in a way that makes assumptions about how the results

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might affect people, even in cases where this was not an aim of the research. For example, research in rats is often taken to have implications in humans. Highly technical language can be changed, not just to more common phrases, but to more evocative or sensational descriptions. Charts and graphs are replaced with images that make articles appear more related to human experimentation or applications, even where this isn’t the case. One example we looked at in detail was a report on the Mail Online website from 2016 that said brain implants could soon help us develop superhero night vision. The report stated that “scientists have used brain implants to give rats a ‘sixth-sense’ that enables them to detect and react to the normally invisible light source.” It added that would make it “possible for the adult brain to adapt to new forms of input and opens up the possibility of enabling humans to gain an array of superhuman senses”. An exciting revelation indeed. But if this was such a ground-breaking and impactful development, why did so few other news publishers cover it? The research the story was based on had originally been published in the Journal of Neuroscience by a team of scientists at Duke University Medical

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Center in the United States. Their work explored how easily you could change the sensory processing of adult rats by implanting them with a brain device to teach them to identify the location of infrared light sources. Surprisingly, the implanted rats learnt to do so in less than four days. The scientists who conducted the research suggested their findings could have important implications for basic neuroscience and rehabilitative medicine. But the Mail Online article took this to another level and interpreted this as the possibility of giving people a number of superhuman senses. The experiment had previously been reported in New Scientist, which appeared to be the main source of information for the report published in the Mail Online. The New Scientist article did focus on the rats, but said the research paved the way for human brain augmentation. As the article used images representing human mind control, it was then less of a leap for the Mail Online to report the research as a move towards giving people superhuman powers. All this leaves ordinary readers to try to work out what is accurate and what isn’t. This requires them to read like a scientist – but without the same training.


RESEARCH

STEPS FOR READING LIKE A SCIENTIST So how do we read this way? Based on our research, we have put together six steps to help you read in a critical way when engaging with scientific information. 1. The first thing to do is simply be aware that important information in the original source may be reinterpreted, modified and even ignored altogether depending on what a journalist understands or chooses to present. 2. In particular, you should watch out for big or surprising claims that may be

exaggerated (such as giving people a “sixth sense”). Such extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. 3. Check how precise and unambiguous the details presented in the article about the research are. Saying that an experiment has proven a particular fact is a lot stronger than saying it suggests that something might happen in the future. 4. Look for a reference or a link to the original source in the report you’re reading. If there is one, it’s more likely that the journalist has read the original research and understands what it does and doesn’t say.

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5. Try to check whether the arguments in the article come from the scientists who carried out the research or the journalist. This could mean looking for quotes or comparing with the original research paper, if you can do that. 6. Look to see if other places are reporting the same stories. If only one news outlet is covering an ‘amazing breakthrough’, it might be time to apply a little more scepticism. Developing these skills could help you discern what sources you should and shouldn’t trust, and how to spot when even usually authoritative outlets exaggerate or misinterpret the facts.

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RESEARCH

Brands may support Black Lives Matter, but advertising still needs to decolonise Carl W. Jones, Senior Lecturer at the University of Westminster, writes in The Conversation about the role which advertising can play in decolonisation.

Brands have been expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by issuing statements and adverts of support – from Nike playing with their memorable tagline of “Just Do It” by asking consumers “for once, Don’t Do It”, to the #Solidaritea hashtag taken up by many tea brands. Many of these messages have been accompanied by promises to take a hard look at each company’s history and current working practices to see what changes can be made to address structural racism. Decolonising involves removing or rewriting rules and concepts left by colonial-era thinking that still control or influence society. And, of course, this means basically every sector of society. It is an idea that is becoming more widespread. But even though brands are stepping up and making statements, the broader industries behind these messages also need interrogating. Decolonisation, for example, is rarely discussed in my field, advertising – and it needs to be. American city dwellers, for example, usually see 5,000 adverts a day and many contain messages that reinforce colonial thinking. Adverts reflect what a society thinks about itself. One study found that white advert characters are more likely than characters of colour to

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be depicted as having an occupation. Such subtle racist and gendered stereotypes are common in adverts around the world. One advert that drew particular attention in the UK and US was the 2017 Dove ad that showed a Black woman removing her brown top, revealing a white woman underneath. Although this was not the intended message, it could certainly be read to imply that by using Dove the consumer can become ‘white’. This upset some consumers who felt that Dove was referring to old colonial-era soap ads that portrayed Black people as unclean. Dove removed the ad and started reviewing online content. And a recent Dolce and Gabbana social media campaign, created in Italy for the Asian market, featured a Chinese model attempting to use chopsticks to eat Italian food, looking fabulous in her D&G clothing. This deeply offended Chinese luxury consumers. The ads were taken down and D&G sales drastically dropped, as celebrities withdrew their support for the brand. These cases show that advertising needs to be decolonised: it can and does support discriminatory thinking – thinking that often has its roots in the colonial era.

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WAYS TO DECOLONISE ADVERTISING How we can remove such thinking from advertising? There are a number of steps I think the industry should take. The most obvious place to start this is within universities, which are already taking steps to decolonise other subjects, from history (more of a focus on colonial histories) to literature (moving beyond the set ‘canon’ of what are often white male writers) and design (creating a space for designers working outside the confines of the Anglo-European sphere). But most marketing courses have not yet taken such steps. It should become standard practice for marketing courses to emphasise how advertising not only persuades consumers but also influences society. Just as today we laugh at ads from the 1950s and their reflection of negative gender stereotypes, such as women stuck at home doing the washing, or not being able to drive correctly, the same exercise will certainly be done in 2050, analysing our current advertising. Advertisers had better be prepared – and bear this in mind. A change is also needed within actual advertising agencies, which are dominated


RESEARCH

by white men in top positions. Even though more women are obtaining these roles, there needs to be more of a gender balance, and far more racial diversity. This will help encourage inclusive messages. In addition, the companies paying for advertising need to change by practising what they preach. This means that they need to follow through and act on their recent messages of solidarity. Take Nike’s “Don’t Do It” ad. This is a good example of a brand calling attention to racism in

society. But this, too, has been controversial because even though Nike has supported Black athletes over the years, the company has been questioned over its lack of Black representation on its leadership team. Brands associating themselves with racial equality need to back words with actions. Finally, regulatory bodies that govern advertising should be more proactive, creating specific rules that guide the ad industry before adverts become offensive. This might involve introducing regulations around reinforcing the concept of white

superiority. The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority has attempted to be proactive in this way, with the negative stereotypes rules that banned two ads in 2019. So this is a step in the right direction. Of course, all of these steps will also feed into the efforts to decolonise elsewhere. The process of decolonising institutions will create a more egalitarian society – so this is something to strive towards. Illustration: ‘Façade’ by Calvin Mukoko, Illustration and Visual Communication BA, 2020

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CLASSNOTES

CLASSNOTES The University of Westminster has a global community of more than 180,000 alumni in over 180 countries worldwide. Here is a small selection of the updates we have received from our alumni over the past year. We would love to hear about your career and life since graduation, so please send your news and a photo to alumni@westminster.ac.uk AMIT DESAI

COMPUTER ANIMATION MSC, 2005

CHARLY LESTER

BROADCAST JOURNALISM MA, 2008

I am the co-founder and CMO of Lumen, the dating app for over 50s. Lumen launched in September 2018 and was the fastest growing new dating app in the world in 2019. With over 1.5 million members, it reached the top 10 most downloaded Lifestyle App chart in the US after just two months. In 2015 I appeared as a judge and guest advisor to Lord Sugar in the final of the UK’s The Apprentice. I have also appeared regularly on Woman’s Hour and the Today programme and on TV shows including the BBC’s Newsnight and The Inside Track.

A film enthusiast and a visual effects (VFX) professional, I have been working in the VFX industry for the last fifteen years, supporting and contributing to the feature film post-production pipeline. I was part of the team that crafted spectacular visuals for some of the world’s biggest films, such as Avengers: Endgame, Mission: Impossible, Harry Potter, Star Wars, The Mummy, Dunkirk and First Man. I am currently working as VFX Pipeline Supervisor for DNEG, one of the world’s leading digital visual special effects service providers with over 20 years in the industry. DNEG have brought home the Oscar for Best Visual Effects four times in the last five years.

EDMILSON ANGELO

POLITICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS BA, 2016

I am the Founder and Director of Change 1’s Life CIO, a UK-registered charity that aims to assist people in need across sub-Saharan Africa who are victims of poverty. My work has been recognised by many distinguished institutions, such as the United Nations under Kofi Annan, and Akon Lighting Africa under the Give1Project. I am currently doing my doctoral degree in International Development at the Institute of Development Studies (University of Sussex). I pursued a Masters in African Studies from the University of Oxford right after leaving Westminster and became a One Young World Ambassador in 2018.

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CLASSNOTES

BRIKENA MUHARREMI LAW LLB, 2002

I qualified as a barrister in 2005. I am the first Albanian woman to qualify as a Barrister in the UK. I am also founder and chair of the British-Albanian Lawyers Association (BALA). I was the first recipient of the newly created ‘Ambassador of the Nation’ Award from the Albanian Government, which I received in March 2019 in recognition of my community work. In addition, I am Chair of Trustees of I Can Be, which is a registered British charity focused on bringing down barriers to opportunity for children and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds.

MAHESH RAMACHANDRAN MBA, 1999

IRUTHISHAM ADAM

DIPLOMATIC STUDIES MA, 2001

My excellence in professional diplomacy and impressive skills as a lead negotiator, career diplomat, ambassador, and strong leadership in the Cabinet as the Minister of Health from 2015–2016, and as the Minister of Youth and Sports until November 2018, has been applauded by my small island country, the Maldives, and internationally. During my journey through diverse fields from women, health promotion, youth and sports to diplomatic efforts on climate change and human rights at key posts in London, New York and Geneva, I contributed to the proactive role of Maldives diplomacy and made meaningful national and global impact.

I am the founder and CEO of Commonwealth Inclusive Growth Services Ltd (CIGS), which operates in over 30,000 locations in India. It handles over 10,000 crores (more than £1bn) of government-to-citizen benefits every year, servicing over five million rural customers. CIGS provides banking services to customers who live far from physical bank branches. It employs people from local villages, and using technology and business processes they act as ‘Human ATMs’. Through this company, customers can make retail banking transactions in their local vicinity in the vernacular language. CIGS employs over 3,300 rural entrepreneurs, at least 50 per cent of whom are women.

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ALINA ISACHENKA

JOURNALISM BA, 2017

I work for the BBC World Service as a broadcast journalist and presenter with an impressive portfolio of interviews. My big break was the interview about ageing in fashion with then 70-year-old model Maye Musk, the mother of Tesla founder Elon Musk – it gained two million views in the first twelve hours after publication on BBC News and became a top story. I front a weekly YouTube current affairs programme. In just three programmes I received more than one million views and great audience feedback. I love to inspire people through my journalism, sharing stories like ‘Domestic violence: How photos are helping victims love themselves again’.

DAVID BALOG

PUBLIC RELATIONS AND ADVERTISING BA, 2019

I come from Hungary. I completed my studies just before flying to Mexico to do an internship with Pagoda Projects. There I worked for Interbrand (a multinational branding consultancy) as an intern. Doing an internship in Mexico City was a massive cultural shock, in a positive way, both professionally and in everyday life. This experience was challenging in a productive way. At the end of the programme, I decided to travel through Mexico and volunteer there in order to help people in small villages.

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CLASSNOTES

DR SANDRA LOAIZA

BIOMEDICAL SCIENCE MSC, 2002

I am a highly driven, ambitious and accomplished scientist who has been contributing to the fields of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy for almost twenty years. In 2017, I was appointed Director and Head of Regulations of the John Goldman Centre for Cellular Therapy. My department, in collaboration with the University College London, pioneered the treatment of an HIV+ patient who was cured after undergoing a stem cell transplant which was widely reported in the news worldwide. My most recent achievement was completing a PhD which I undertook on a part-time basis whilst working and raising two young children.

PATRICK (HANK) ROBERTS ECONOMICS BSC, 1972

Since Network kindly carried an article about my National ATL Presidential year in 2013, the ATL and NUT unions have amalgamated into one union – the National Education Union (NEU). For this work I received a union Lifetime Achievement award. I’m still actively working for one united education union for the whole of education. I recently published my autobiography Rebel Without a Pause and am working with others to set up a National Education Museum.

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BEATRIZ BUARQUE

SUSAN DARKER-SMITH

I started Words Heal the World while still at Westminster, which enables students to use their skills to develop strategies to tackle different types of extremism such as Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism, and jihadism. The project which started with five students from the University of Westminster, spread quickly across the world and gained international recognition. I have attended prestigious conferences organised by UNESCO, Michigan State University and ISD. I received the Transcendence Award from Michigan State University in 2018. In only two years, my dream became a project that was later registered as an NGO in the UK.

I am one of the founding members of the Trauma Response Network UK (TRN), a charity working to provide early intervention pro bono psychological therapy following an incident of terrorism or mass trauma to those affected by such events. Recently, we succeeded in training over 300 accredited psychological therapists to deliver pro bono evidencebased therapy online to front-line staff affected by COVID-19. I am the Clinical Director of the Child Trauma Therapy Centre, which also runs a non-profit organisation C.H.I.L.D., developed specifically to support research into children’s mental health needs to help make better decisions for the next generation.

INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND SECURITY MA, 2018

CONTEMPORARY BUSINESS & PSYCHOLOGY BA, 2000

KWAME M. A. MCPHERSON MBA, 2002

Since graduating in 2002, I have lived in Canada and worked at the University of Toronto with a renowned anthropologist. Later, I worked at a leading smoking cessation organisation in Downtown Toronto. I also helped set up the business administration office in Chinatown, learning a bit of Chinese along the way. On my return to the UK, I became a fully fledged, self-employed writer, self-publishing a few titles, and contributing to a number of anthologies and international magazines. Now I am based in Jamaica and most recently, I became the first Jamaican to be awarded The Bridport Prize bursary for Flash Fiction.

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CLASSNOTES

JOSHUA IMUERE

ZEINAB SHABBIR

COMPUTING BSC, 2002

In 2011 I became CEO of Southside Young Leaders Academy, the early-intervention charity whose mission is to reduce permanent school exclusion which at the time was disproportionately affecting Black and Minority Ethnic boys. I currently lead Art Against Knives, which is a North London-based youth charity that uses creativity to support young people at risk of exploitation often living in difficult environments. I joined AAK in July 2019 and am now focusing on the development of the strategy to build on their rich history and continue to support more young people, both in breadth and depth.

ANDY BROOK

AUDIO PRODUCTION MA, 2007

JEMMA WAYNE

BROADCAST JOURNALISM PGDIP, 2003

Since completing my Broadcast Journalism PGDip in 2003, I started off as a staff reporter at The Jewish Chronicle, before going freelance to concentrate on fiction. As a journalist, my work has appeared in The Spectator, National Geographic, The Huffington Post and The Independent on Sunday, among others. My first novel, After Before, was longlisted for the 2015 Women’s Prize for Fiction. A second novel, Chains of Sand, was published in 2016, and To Dare was released on 1 July 2020.

I have produced, engineered and toured with the likes of Status Quo and Bonnie Tyler, as well as working for major labels, and I have been put forward for numerous Music Producers Guild awards. The Brook, my studio in Wallington, is also a grassroots music venue hosting touring and local artists. In 2016 I set up 84 Records, a UK record label focused on providing artists with a platform to release and promote new music. My 2019 output included hits on the Official UK country, rock, independent and mainstream charts as well as published articles (including Sound on Sound).

ARMIN GICIC

INTERNATIONAL LIAISON AND COMMUNICATION MA, 2018

I used to be a Student Ambassador during my studies. After graduating, I went back to Serbia (my home country), where I started studying Translation and Interpretation. I have experience as a Social Media Advertisement Manager, Localisation Specialist, Translator and Linguist Tour Guide. Since 2019, I have been doing a PhD in Languages at the University of Belgrade. While doing my PhD I am working as a Linguist Tour Guide, and have created a YouTube video ironically called Don’t Go to Novi Pazar.

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INFORMATION SYSTEMS WITH BUSINESS MANAGEMENT BSC, 2010

I went on to become a Lead Business Consultant at Virtusa Corporation and also President of the Women of Virtusa club. In 2016, I pursued an MSc in Business Psychology and was invited to become an external lecturer at Informatics Institute of Technology. After moving to Dubai in 2017, I became an international mentor for the University of Westminster and obtained a Diploma in Photography. I am currently the owner of Zen Stones, my own business venture that sells exquisite gemstones globally. I am also the CEO of Starsons International, a firm that imports different types of construction tools and materials.

TANNAZ HOSSEINPOUR

COMMERCIAL AND INTERNATIONAL DISPUTE RESOLUTION LLM, 2015

I used my LLM degree in dispute resolution to complete a course in family mediation, which meant I was able to position myself apart in the community as a personal development and relationship coach. Three years ago, I started my own education consultancy firm, TP Education Consultants. Fortunately, I’ve been able to expand it to three cities: Toronto, Dubai and Tehran. Alongside that, I am a certified personal development coach, CBT Practitioner, and the host of my podcast show Minutes on Growth. I’ve also recently published my first children’s book, Sam’s Adventures at the Park.

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ASK-A-MENTOR SERVICE WOULD YOU ENJOY MENTORING A STUDENT, BUT DON’T HAVE MUCH TIME? Our Ask-a-Mentor service gives students and recent graduates the chance to have a one-off conversation with an experienced professional in the area they hope to work in, and ask sector-specific questions regarding applications, interviews and their career ambitions. This conversation can take place over the phone, through online platforms or simply by email.

To find out more, email career-mentoring@westminster.ac.uk

THE WESTMINSTER IMPACT Our new podcast series celebrates the work and achievements of the Westminster community, and the positive impact our alumni, students, staff and supporters are having on society. Listen and share at: anchor.fm/westminsterimpact

OPEN DAYS Online open days are the perfect opportunity to get an interactive feel for student life at the University of Westminster. During the online events, staff will also be on hand to answer any questions you may have about wellbeing, student finance, accommodation and where your degree can take you after graduation.

westminsterconnect.org

YOUR EXCLUSIVE NETWORKING HUB Make the most of the diverse and highly skilled global pool of Westminster graduates by signing up to Westminster Connect • Reconnect with classmates • Post and search for job opportunities • Give and receive career advice • Access your alumni benefits, and much more! Join the thousands of alumni already signed up at westminsterconnect.org

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UNDERGRADUATE ONLINE OPEN DAY 10 OCTOBER 2020 POSTGRADUATE ONLINE OPEN EVENING 18 NOVEMBER 2020

westminster.ac.uk/study/open-days


ENJOY 15 PER CENT OFF YOUR MASTERS OR PhD*

WHAT IT TAKES

University of Westminster alumni are entitled to a 15 per cent discount on full- or part-time Masters and PhD courses at the University.

Our award-winning alumni speaker series will return this autumn with online talks and presentations from an exciting new line-up of inspirational alumni.

All those who hold a Bachelors degree with honours, a Masters degree, or have completed a minimum of one semester as a study abroad or exchange student from the University of Westminster are eligible.

Keep a lookout for the full programme of personal and professional development topics this October, or for more information visit: westminster.ac.uk/what-it-takes

Postgraduate Loans of up to ÂŁ10,280 are also available from Student Finance England to help you finance your studies. For more information please contact our Course Enquiries Team at course-enquiries@westminster.ac.uk *Terms and conditions apply

LEAVE A LEGACY TODAY TRANSFORM LIVES TOMORROW Support future students by leaving a legacy – one of the easiest ways of making a lasting gift to the University. To find out more about remembering Westminster in your will, contact Amar Kataora on +44 (0)20 3506 6602 or at a.kataora@westminster.ac.uk

CHANGING THE WORLD

WESTMINSTER TALKS Westminster Talks is returning in 2020/21 Visit westminster.ac.uk/events for information on upcoming lectures

PROFESSIONAL AND SHORT COURSES The University of Westminster has an extended portfolio of programmes for continuing professional development (CPD), and offers short courses in a number of subject areas. Your attendance may count towards CPD with professional bodies.*

Find out more and apply: westminster.ac.uk/courses/professional-andshort-courses *Please see individual course descriptions for details

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Join your global Westminster community online at

westminsterconnect.org

The University of Westminster is a charity and a company limited by guarantee. Registration number: 977818. Registered office: 309 Regent Street, London W1B 2UW 9097/07.20/CH/GP


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