How can we predict the hottest year on record when weather forecasts are so uncertain?

How can we predict the hottest year on record when weather forecasts are so uncertain?

NASA and NOAA jointly reported that 2016 was the warmest year on record. That’s no surprise, as the first six months of the year were all exceptionally warm. Yet the news is significant for what it says about global warming: Before 2016, the 10 hottest years on record occurred since 1998. And last year was […] … learn more→

Why we need to collaborate with ‘generation snowflake’ to improve universities

Why we need to collaborate with ‘generation snowflake’ to improve universities

University students have been called many things over the years, and the most recent term “snowflake”, is now being used to characterise a whole generation of “overly sensitive students”, more often labelled millennials. The word “snowflake” was both a Financial Times and Collin’s Dictionary “word of the year” for 2016, with the definition given as: […] … learn more→

The morass of big-time College football

The morass of big-time College football

Remember that widely circulated map illustrating how in 39 of 50 states the highest-paid state employee is a public university football or basketball coach?  If you don’t, here it is: According to USA Today‘s annual survey, in 2015-16 some 72 college football coaches were paid over a million dollars annually, not including bonuses, with Michigan’s […] … learn more→

Trumpus Andronicus? What the Byzantine Empire can tell us about the rise of populist leaders

Trumpus Andronicus? What the Byzantine Empire can tell us about the rise of populist leaders

The approaching Donald Trump presidency has taken quite a battering from historians. Comparisons have abounded with the 20th century’s greatest villains, including Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, even if some have questioned how useful such parallels are. But there is an era that lends itself rather closer to comparison than the tired fascist comparison. And […] … learn more→

Why race should be high on the student attainment agenda in 2017

Why race should be high on the student attainment agenda in 2017

The proportion of UK students identifying as black and minority ethnic (BME) attending university reached 21 per cent in 2014-15 – its highest ever. Despite this increase, there is a 15 per cent attainment gap between white and BME students achieving a 2:1 or above – aka, a “good degree”. This gap is greatest between […] … learn more→

Why learn spelling or maths if there’s an app for that?

Why learn spelling or maths if there’s an app for that?

There is no doubt that digital technologies have disrupted our modes of teaching. The resources and inputs into teaching have changed to incorporate computer-aided approaches such as “flipped” classrooms, mobile-phone-enabled interactions, video capturing of lectures and enhanced mixed realities. The old “sage on the stage” model of teaching has been pushed into becoming the “guide […] … learn more→

Paper not working? try the “what’s the problem?” approach

Paper not working? try the “what’s the problem?” approach

Ever find yourself with a draft of a journal article that you’re just not happy with? Can’t put your finger on what’s wrong? Well you’re not alone. The being-disgruntled-with-a-paper-but-unsure-of-the-reason syndrome is the most common problem I see in writing workshops. Unhappy drafters have almost always completed research that’s interesting and that potentially makes a contribution. They […] … learn more→

Community College and poverty

Community College and poverty

It’s a been a while since I’ve explained the “bread and butter” of community colleges. While their primary victim is the remedial student, the big source of money for many community colleges is the Pell Grant. The Pell Grant is basically free money for college. You show up and say you need money. The college […] … learn more→

How I overcame rejection to turn my love of 'poi' into research

How I overcame rejection to turn my love of ‘poi’ into research

Ten years ago, while moping around circus practice with a torn rotator cuff, boredom and curiosity led me to try the most unimpressive prop under the big top: a sock filled with rice. It didn’t involve flipping and flying through the air. It didn’t involve extraordinary strength or speed. It didn’t appear to involve much […] … learn more→

From rural Kenya to a PhD in astronomy: how partnerships made it possible

From rural Kenya to a PhD in astronomy: how partnerships made it possible

I grew up in a Kenyan village with dark skies and vivid stars. We admired the sky and listened to stories about it told by the elders. There were few expectations that the children in our village would ever understand the sky’s secrets as this was unimaginable at the time. I excelled at maths and […] … learn more→