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Kingston University professor Will Brooker transforms himself into pop icon David Bowie for year-long study of music legend

Posted Wednesday 5 August 2015

Have you ever wanted to live the life of a famous pop star? Or learn more about an artist's state of mind while they were in the process of creating a career-defining piece of work?

That's exactly what an academic from Kingston University is doing as part of a year-long research project. Film and cultural studies expert Professor Will Brooker will cover 40 years of music legend David Bowie's career during a year-long study, spending a few months at a time experiencing specific moments in the star's life.

"The idea is to inhabit Bowie's head space at points in his life and career to understand his work from an original angle, while retaining a critical and objective perspective at the same time - a kind of split persona perhaps," Professor Brooker explained.

Professor Brooker discussed the project with Australian network ABC while he was in Melbourne to speak at the David Bowie symposium taking place as part of the David Bowie Is exhibition at the Australian Centre for the Moving image.

Part of the process of the research involves only consuming the cultural content Bowie would have encountered during each period. For example, Professor Brooker is currently only listening to music, watching films and reading books produced before 1974 to get a deeper insight into Bowie's creative thought process. It was during this period that the star became interested in Philadelphia soul, leading to the production of the Young Americans album and the creation of the Thin White Duke character. "If you're reading some strange science fiction and books about magic, you can kind of get into Bowie's head. It's sometimes quite a strange place, a dangerous place, a place you wouldn't want to live for too long," Professor Brooker said.

Professor Brooker as David BowieHe has also been dressing as Bowie, wearing the same make-up, experimenting with sleep deprivation, attempting to follow Bowie's dubious diet of milk and red peppers and has even started to take singing lessons. However, some aspects of the icon's life are more difficult recreate. "His mansion in Beckenham has been demolished, for instance, and I'm unlikely to have a fling with Mick Jagger," Professor Brooker said. "However it is possible to engage with and get a feel for his experiences without immersing oneself to a dangerous extent."

It was during his teenage years that Professor Brooker first came into contact with Bowie, repeatedly listening to a cassette of the Let's Dance album on his Walkman. Looking back, he believes he felt an affinity to Bowie because he achieved a 'balance between success and strangeness, between a necessary commercial pragmatism and a core of personal authenticity'.

Professor Brooker is not sure how Bowie would feel about his latest project: "I hope he would be interested in and amused by my research," he said. "I do feel, though, that everything he says and does in public is performance, so if he did hear about it, we would be unlikely to know what he genuinely thought."

  • Find out more about studying music at Kingston University.
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Luminary of film and theatre Simon Callow awarded Kingston University honorary degree

Posted Friday 31 July 2015

Luminary of film and theatre Simon Callow awarded Kingston University honorary degree

Simon Callow - one of Britain's most respected stage and screen stars - has been named an Honorary Doctor of Letters by Kingston University. As well as being known to millions for his acting roles in such hit films as ‘Four Weddings and a Funeral, ‘Shakespeare in Love' and ‘Room with a View' and in television shows such as ‘Doctor Who', Mr Callow is a critically acclaimed writer and director. He has been honoured for his contribution to theatre and film practice and research and also to literary biography.

His career, which has spanned more than five decades, got off the ground when a fan letter he sent Sir Laurence Olivier landed him a job in the box office at London's National Theatre. The National Theatre under the leadership of Olivier had carved out a reputation as one of the world's truly great companies and it was here, surrounded by the cream of British acting, writing, technical and directorial talent that Mr Callow developed a lifelong fascination with text, character and the process of creating theatre. Having been inspired to forge out a theatrical career of his own, Mr Callow spent much of his 20s developing his craft - studying acting and appearing in a range of fringe and repertory productions, including working with the pioneering Gay Sweatshop and playing ‘Titus Andronicus' at Bristol's Old Vic. His acclaimed performance in the title role of Peter Shaffer's ‘Amadeus' at the National Theatre brought him much wider public recognition and was the springboard to a highly successful film and television career. Simon Callow published his first book ‘Being an Actor' in 1985 - a bold dissection of the acting profession and as a passionate writer/educator he has written prolifically on literary and performance themes. His volumes on the art of acting - whether it be for stage, film, Restoration Comedy or Shakespeare are studied by drama students everywhere....

Kingston's genome sequencing research set to tackle major global health challenge

Posted Wednesday 24 June 2015

Kingston's genome sequencing research set to tackle major global health challenge

Genome sequencing research completed by Kingston University has the potential to bring significant benefits to a key global health issue.

Bacterial infections are a major cause of deaths and illnesses across the world. The rise in antibiotic resistance in bacteria is therefore a growing health concern, highlighted frequently in the mass media. Current government research priorities include the development of alternatives to common antibiotics....

Kingston University experts to play key role in European Commission-backed project to help stamp out doping on the amateur sport and fitness circuit

Posted Wednesday 13 May 2015

Kingston University experts to play key role in European Commission-backed project to help stamp out doping on the amateur sport and fitness circuit

Project SAFE YOU will educate young people about the perils of performance-enhancing drugs. Image: DreamstimeKingston University is playing a key role in a major European initiative to educate young fitness and sports enthusiasts about the dangers of doping and ways to avoid falling victim to the perils of performance and image-enhancing substances. Project SAFE YOU (Strengthening the Anti-doping Fight in Fitness and Exercise in Youth) is being launched with more than €400,000 backing from the European Commission. It will lead to the development of an online tool that will also serve as a comprehensive source of support for teachers, coaches and instructors responsible for anti-doping education.

Headed by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki Greece, the project will draw on the knowledge of a consortium of global experts, including senior academics from Kingston University, the University of Rome Foro Italico and the University of Potsdam in Germany. They will work alongside the German Anti-Doping Agency, the Cyprus Sport Organisation and Greece's Ministry of Culture, Education and Religious Affairs....

Hugh Grant reads extract from the Duke of Wellington's description of the Battle of Waterloo to promote Kingston University Journalism professor Brain Cathcart's new book

Posted Wednesday 6 May 2015

A new book written by Kingston University Journalism professor Brian Cathcart has been given a helping hand by one of Britain's most famous names. Actor Hugh Grant has recorded a reading of the Duke of Wellington's famous dispatch, which carried news of the allied victory at the Battle of Waterloo, to support the release of 'The News From Waterloo: the race to tell Britain of Wellington's triumph'.

"I know him a little through my work with the press reform campaign Hacked Off," says Professor Cathcart. "I asked him if he would record a reading of Wellington's famous Waterloo Dis-patch and to my delight he said yes. The result is really terrific." The Hugh Grant recording, which is about 15 minutes in length, is of Wellington's official report to London after the battle, which in its day was very widely republished and well known.

The cover of Professor Brain Cathcart\'s book, The News from Waterloo: The Race to tell Britain of Wellington\'s triumphThe book - which appears in the 200th anniversary year of Napoleon Bonaparte's final defeat - owes its origins to a problem Professor Cathcart encountered when he was preparing a lecture for journalism students. Wanting to illustrate how slowly news travelled in the days before electrical and steam power, he looked up what happened after Waterloo.

"There just wasn't a clear answer, and the more I looked for it the more tangled the story became. That was five or six years ago, and I've had to write a whole book to get things straight," he says.

He sees the result as a case study in news communication that - though the events take place in the Regency period - is relevant even to the smartphone age. The story includes official and unofficial messengers, misinformation and propaganda, while the role of the London newspapers of the day is closely examined.

Hugh Grant reads from Wellington\'s dispatch

Three Kingston University case studies featured in new University Alliance initiative to spotlight real world impact of university research

Posted Monday 23 March 2015

Kingston University\'s Fiona Jones speaks to a patientA report by University Alliance, of which Kingston University is a member, concludes that collaboration and connectivity must be top priorities for universities and funders if the UK is to continue to lead the world in research and innovation.

The report, Evolve. Connect. Succeed. Funding a healthy research and innovation ecosystem was launched at an event attended by vice-chancellors, parliamentarians, businesses and researchers. The accompanying website resource of more than 60 impact case studies was drawn from submitions from Alliance member universities to the REF 2014 exercise.

The case studies were grouped in four categories and the research from Kingston University is:
Bridges for more effective post-stroke care (category: Improving healthcare)
Protecting victims of press abuse (category: Shaping society)
Tracking sports success (category: Shaping society)

Increased global competition means that for Britain's research and innovation ecosystem to continue to flourish it will need greater collaboration with partners within academia and with businesses, charities and governments. In response, Alliance universities are working collaboratively to deliver a new doctoral training scheme. The Doctoral Training Alliance will be built around joint research strengths and embed close relationships with industry from design to delivery.

Find out more about research at Kingston University.

Kingston University takes steps to close the BME attainment gap

Posted Monday 16 March 2015

Students in a group study session at Penrhyn Road campusThe gap in attainment between BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) and other students has been a long-standing concern across the whole higher education sector. However, Kingston University is now about to play a key role in addressing this important national issue.

Following a recommendation by the Vice-Chancellor and, with the endorsement of the University's Board of Governors on 4 March 2015, Kingston University will now continue to build on work undertaken over the past three years. Led by the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), the University will introduce initiatives that aim to ensure students from BME backgrounds get the very most out of their time at university, achieve their full potential, and leave with great prospects.

Kingston University aims to lead nationally and will focus its efforts to improve institutional processes, enhance knowledge and skills, and better support its diverse range of students.

The decision is based on a several key factors:

• Across the UK, BME students are less likely to achieve their potential when compared to white students even where entry qualifications and subjects studied are identical.
• The University has a majority of BME students and wants to ensure all students realise their full potential.
• There is a need to address a complex range of influences. Only some factors relate to students' circumstances (e.g. many live at home, have caring responsibilities, need to work to support themselves), which distracts from their ability to learn and study. Other factors relate to the way a higher education institution behaves, such as ensuring there is a climate which is welcoming to all students and a curriculum which is relevant to all student experiences.

As a result the University has now adopted:

1. The reduction of the BME attainment gap as an institutional KPI.
2. A value-added score system, as used in the Guardian league tables, as the key metric.
3. An Achievement Plan containing key initiatives that improve the institution, knowledge and skills, and student outcomes.

Students discussing their studies at a seminar at Penrhyn Road campusThe Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University, Professor Julius Weinberg, said: "By adopting this approach, Kingston University is seeking to further identify the main issues and then take steps to ensure all students achieve their full potential. Our initial focus will be on disseminating clear accurate data, supporting those courses with the largest attainment gap, increasing understanding of diversity and cultural differences, as well as offering support to ensure the curriculum is inclusive and relevant."

The Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Education), Professor Lesley-Jane Eales-Reynolds, said: "We are making it a key priority to ensure that the University offers all students an equal opportunity to succeed. We know from research that BME students often have less self-confidence than white students and so we have introduced some key opportunities that we know make a difference.

"For example our Student Associate Programme has shown that 92.9% of those BME students who engage with it progress in their studies, whilst only 77.9% of those who do not engage, progress. Also, our Student Leadership Project run by student services showed a progression rate of 88% for BME students who engaged, and only 79% for those who did not. All of these opportunities are designed to build self-confidence and develop the skills that are valued by employers and are likely to make students succeed in their assessments."

Find out more about equality, diversity and inclusion at Kingston University

Kingston University MBA among Europe's top 50 in QS Global 200 Business Schools ranking report 2015

Posted Friday 13 February 2015

Kingston Business School BuildingKingston Business School BuildingKingston Business School's full-time MBA has been ranked 43 out of 200 in the latest QS Fulltime MBA rankings of business schools across Europe. The survey asks international employers to select the schools from which they consider hiring MBA graduates. This information is combined with the QS Intelligence Unit survey of academics from all over the world each year to produce the final ranking.

Employers returning data in the European section included companies from the finance, technology and consulting sectors including Google, Bloomberg, PWC, Microsoft, Deutsche Bank, AXA and more. Experienced HR and line managers from each company are asked a series of questions about MBA recruitment in the previous and the forthcoming year. They are then asked to list, unprompted, the international schools from which they have recently attempted to recruit MBAs.

This is the first year that Kingston University has been included in this ranking. Recent improvements to the MBA programme include a renewed focus on the global nature of business, offering students opportunities to study modules in both Berlin and Moscow, and the introduction of a dedicated MBA careers coach and an MBA Careers Week.

Most recently, Kingston Business School has partnered with the prestigious Boston University in the USA to offer postgraduates a high-quality, international education leading to a dual degree from the two institutions. Kingston Business School's international collaborations include delivering the Kingston MBA with a partner in Moscow - the Russian Presidential Academy of the National Economy and Public Administration. This MBA has been ranked number one in Russia several times.

Ron Tuninga, dean of the Faculty of Business and Law welcomed the new ranking, saying that it was a tremendous achievement for the Business School and highly deserved; "We now rank more highly than some well-known schools on the continent such as Vlerick School of Business in Belgium." Chris Bristow, director of the MBA programmes, said: "It is a tribute both to the teaching team and the excellent MBA participants who join us from far and wide to make this a truly international, transformational programme".

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