The new head of the University of Bedfordshire's School of Law believes it is well placed to be a "formidable force in legal education" after recent changes in legal practice. Jonathan Black-Branch, a barrister who joins the university after a long career teaching law and conducting research on international law, said Bedfordshire was known for "taking education forward with many dynamic degrees" and that law would be "at the forefront of these developments". Professor Black-Branch, whose research focuses on comparative human rights law, international humanitarian law and the laws of war, has a DPhil in law from the University of Oxford as well as a PhD from the University of Toronto. He has worked at a number of universities, including the University of Brighton and Royal Holloway, University of London, and is former dean of AVT Business School in Copenhagen. He said he was particularly impressed by the attention to law students' growth and professional progress at Bedfordshire, as well as its friendly atmosphere. "We are fortunate to have a good balance between strong community-based students mixed with others from around the country and indeed the world," he said.
The new head of opera studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama has "never had a salaried job in (his) life - this is the first one". Dominic Wheeler, who describes himself as a freelance conductor, has taken over from Clive Timms, who spent 22 years in the role. He said his predecessor had set up a "very well-run, well-structured course". "There is potential for very positive change, building on what Clive's already done, not dispensing with it, (and making) the transition as smooth as possible for everybody," he said. Mr Wheeler obtained an undergraduate degree in music at the University of Cambridge before studying at the Royal College of Music and the Liszt Academy of Music in Budapest. Although excited by the prospect of "veering away from the museum culture of opera", he is anxious about the dangers of "classical crossover". "I think there's a danger that the fascination with the X Factor thing - unchained, raw talent - leads to an acceptance of mediocrity in terms of the quality of the work offered," Mr Wheeler said. "My problem with the crossover is that I suspect that it's not quite as ingenuous as it likes to think it is."
Currently a professor in the department of physics at the University of Toronto, Ted Shepherd has been appointed to the Grantham chair in climate science at the University of Reading. Professor Shepherd said his decision to leave Canada for Berkshire was down in part to the "two-bodied problem" experienced by academic couples. "My wife also works in science and she didn't have a very satisfactory position here, so we knew we were going to be looking for a place where we could get two attractive positions," he said. "When Reading came through as an opportunity, we jumped at it." Professor Shepherd acknowledged that his field was one of the most contested in the public sphere, but he asks sceptics to look at it logically. "If you're, say, the head of the civil engineering department in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and a climate scientist says you should build the levees a little higher because climate change might mean...sea levels rise, you don't need 95 per cent confidence that it is going to happen to build the levees higher. If you think there's a 10 per cent chance of it happening, you'll do it." He added: "Nobody can say, with any kind of confidence, that we have nothing to worry about. Under those circumstances we have to start taking action."
The University of Chichester has appointed a leading scholar working in the area of the history of Africa and the African diaspora. Hakim Adi has joined Chichester's department of history, one of a limited number offering courses in the field, after being made redundant from the University of Middlesex two years ago. "I was happy to be employed again," he said after gaining the position. "I was at Middlesex for 15 to 16 years before being made redundant. Middlesex closed down the history programme, and I was the last historian there. (The Chichester job) came just at the right time." Dr Adi said he aimed to develop the subject area, which was still a "relatively new subject for academic study". He added: "[I want to] encourage PhD students to do research into the whole area of African diaspora history, particularly relating to Britain. There is an increasing number of people taking an interest, but we need more." While African history is taught at some universities, Dr Adi said it annoyed him that the "notion of African diaspora history is not that common" in the UK. Dr Adi obtained a BA and a PhD in African history at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, but said he was "a late developer into higher education". "I've taught history at every level you can imagine: schools, prison, adult education, further education, university. I've taught in Broadmoor, Strangeways - you name it, I've done it," he said.
The Academy of Social Sciences has conferred the award of academician on the following people: Michael Adler, University of Edinburgh; Neal Ashkanasy, University of Queensland Business School; Peter Blatchford, Institute of Education, University of London; Jane Broadbent, University of Roehampton; Sarah Cunningham-Burley, University of Edinburgh; Nickie Charles, University of Warwick; David Cowan, University of Bristol; Dame Sandra Dawson, University of Cambridge; Judi Ellis, University of Reading; Kevin Featherstone, London School of Economics; Patrick Flood, Dublin City University; Paul Flowers, Glasgow Caledonian University; Paul Furlong, Cardiff University; Yvonne Galligan, Queen's University Belfast; Meric Gertler, University of Toronto; Miriam Glucksmann, University of Essex; Jean Grugel, University of Sheffield; Tamara Hervey, Sheffield; Mary Hickman, London Metropolitan University; Paul Higgs, University College London; Emily Holmes, University of Oxford; Richard Wyn Jones, Cardiff University; Tess Kay, Brunel University; Mavis Maclean, Oxford; Joseph Maguire, Loughborough University; Anthony McEnery, Lancaster University; Edward Melhuish, Birkbeck, University of London; Ronan O'Carroll, University of Stirling; John Offer, University of Ulster; Bridget Penhale, University of East Anglia; David Phoenix, University of Central Lancashire; Mark Phythian, University of Leicester; Jonathan Rigg, University of Durham; Pauline Slade, Sheffield; Carol Smart, University of Manchester; Philip Thomas, Cardiff; Sally Wheeler, Queen's University Belfast; Richard Wilson, Loughborough; and Stefan Wolff, University of Birmingham.
Edinburgh Napier University has announced the appointment of Alistair Sambell as its new vice-principal (academic). Professor Sambell joins from Sheffield Hallam University, where he was pro vice-chancellor for the Faculty of Arts, Computing, Engineering and Sciences.