Class of ‘92

By Aug.18, 2014

14858541135_a364b5d50c_bSalford’s A J Bell Stadium was sold out – capacity 12,000 – for the much anticipated match between Salford City and their owners, the Class of ’92 consortium of Nicky Butt, Ryan Giggs, Gary Neville and Paul Scholes. Full disclosure: I know little about football. So I had a steep learning curve in the stands with five coachloads of our staff, students and prospective students and our Student Union leadership. It’s still not clear to me what the guy who clung to the crossbar of the goal posts like a determined orangutan was trying to achieve, as he was prised off bit-by-bit by four beleaguered security guards. But there was a clear, finger-wagging message in the outcome. It doesn’t matter how famous you are; teamwork trumps celebrity.

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Demented Choirs of Wailing Shells

By Aug.11, 2014

On Sunday August 3, the day before the 100th anniversary of Britain’s declaration of war on Germany, the centenary was commemorated in Manchester Cathedral.

Bishop David Walker’s ceremony was in Manchester’s radical tradition. He remembered the mud, rats, fear and death rather than the hubris of nationalism and empire. The ceremony marked the roles of ordinary men and women from across the North West who then, as now, contributed significantly to the rank and file of the armed forces.  The emphasis in his sermon was on our common humanity; that the World War engulfed people from across continents; that this diversity was a strength then, and remains a strength a century later.


A meeting of minds in Rio

By Aug.04, 2014

Santander is an unusual bank. Some fifteen years ago, Santander sponsored its first network of universities in Spain. Since then, the network has expanded across the Ibero-American community, initially to Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Columbia, Mexico, Peru, Portugal, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Venezuela. Uni>ersia, as it’s branded, now covers all Ibero-American countries and, from 2008 onwards, has incorporated the US and significant number of British universities.


Faith and the University Community

By Jul.28, 2014

What role should faith play in the daily life of the university? Some take the view that we should be rigorously secular, seeing faith as a personal matter that should be expressed away from the campus. In this approach, the work of learning, teaching and research should be organised independently from the needs of any specific faith group. But in practical terms, this is close to impossible in a country that organises its week and its public holidays around one specific religion and which requires “reasonable accommodation” with regard to equality and diversity. Other universities are faith-based by tradition and charter. More broadly, the recent controversy concerning schools in Birmingham has raised questions about faith-based and secular education and implications for funding.


The Price of Reading

By Jul.21, 2014

The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology

The Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology

The South African Archaeological Bulletin is a venerable academic journal but is not on everyone’s reading list. So I think it’s a safe bet that few (anyone?) reading this blog will have seen my review of the Oxford Handbook of African Archaeology that came out last month. To give you the pleasure of this experience, I’ve reproduced the review below.

Apart from academic vanity, I have a particular reason for drawing attention to the Handbook Phenomenon. The richness of African archaeology is in the heritage of some of the poorest countries in the world. Academics in these countries will have to pay £120 for the 1080 pages of this handbook. For this price – already unattainable – they will receive content that will have about one fortieth of the academic value of the online version of the same book. And the online version is only available at an annual subscription that is almost ten times the price as the printed book. These are the challenges of the current state of academic publishing and, of course, of many aspects of the world economy.

Read on…..