Ustinov Global Citizenship Programme

Oriental Museum

The Oriental Museum may be comparatively small to other museums, but it is filled with treasures seldom found elsewhere. As the Intercultural Forum, we look at not only celebrating existing cultures and traditions, but also the history behind them.


For international students who make the long journey to Durham, it is without doubt that the one thing that they miss the most, yet the one that gives them the most motivation and energy to pursue their studies, is home. After all, isn’t home where our heart truly is? To celebrate our roots, as well as those of others, the UIF along with the Oriental Museum, organised a day of exploring the theme of home through some of the museum’s unique artefacts. Students, parents and children were all invited to see what home life was like in the good old days sans electricity, electronic devices, the internet, and other modern technology that we seemingly cannot live without.

Attendees marvelled at pieces including a Chinese wedding bed, religious idols that are worshipped under Hinduism even today, elegant Japanese tea sets, Egyptian jewellery and even South Korean wedding ducks to signify whether a marriage is in a good place or not. What’s more, the attendees got a peek at the museum’s celebrated Egyptian exhibits which included actual mummies. Since the museum believes in highlighting what was and what is, there were also exhibits from the 21stcentury to show how an idea as old as home is more susceptible to change than we think. There was a short break for tea and refreshments to energise the attendees, especially the little kids who spent their energy paying close attention and marvelling at the exhibits.

The highlight of the day, and undoubtedly the part that all attendees were looking forward to, was handling some of the museums artefacts. Protective gloves were given, making everyone feel like a surgeon holding a person’s life in their hands. Common, yet ancient household pieces including clothing, mirrors, tea kettles and cosmetics were passed around, each having a story of their own. The children particularly loved some of the colourful pieces, which also included soft toys that they would be familiar with. Personally handling the artefacts gave one a connection and better understanding as to how people back then performed the same activities that we perform today, but with limited resources.

All in all, the visit was thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, and it was a learning experience that one could not get from books alone. The UIF eagerly awaits organising its next museum visit!

Ustinov Research Round table

With the success of the first Research Round Table event, the second Research Round Table came back for Ustinovians to share and discuss their research topics. The event is hosted by the Seminar Series team of the Ustinov’s Global Citizenship Programme (GCP).

In this second Research Round Table, there are three speakers across departments including Geography, Philosophy and Business School. The first speaker, Giselle Eugenia Connell from Department of Geography, shared about the memory and meaning of dance-mappings after the genocide in Rwanda. The second speaker, Angelos Sofocleous from Department of Philosophy, talked about the reason why law of nature should be redefined as law of the system and the interaction of supernatural and physical systems. The last speaker, Antonios M. Vasilatos from Business School, presented his research interests in the area of Microeconomics in Greece’s Tourism and explained how economic events affect Tourism’s growth.

During the discussion, this event offers an opportunity for participants to ask and discuss in the speakers’ topics in order to help speakers develop the quality of the research, gain new experience and share new ideas. Apart from the topics’ discussion, the socialising and networking with international students are one of the highlights of this event, building the sense of community.

We welcome all speakers and participants to discuss further topics. If you are interested in our upcoming event, please stay connected through our social medias such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Artistic copyright and land rights in Aboriginal Australia

By Marianna Iliadou

Photo Credit: Pattaranun Chaisudhiphongskul

At first sight artistic copyright and land rights do not seem to be closely connected. However, this is not true in Aboriginal Australia, where the two are tied together with the general rights movement of indigenous Australians. The West has historically tried to impose its ideas, lifestyle, values and laws into other civilizations, which is of great significance to the Global Citizenship notion, as it clashes with the idea that different cultures should co-exist in harmony.
On Thursday 24th January, the Seminar Team invited Professor Robert Layton from the Anthropology Department of Durham University to give a talk on artistic copyright and land rights in Aboriginal Australia. The speaker started by explaining the traditional social organisation within the indigenous population and the differences in aboriginal imagery depending on the territory of each clan. Emphasis was placed on selling indigenous artistic artefacts in the 70s as a means for independence from the Australian government. To quote the speaker, ‘they were using money to buy their freedom’. Although there was an initial attempt to educate colonists about the significance and meaning of the symbols, there was a cost for this commercialisation. There was an exposure of secret ritual elements, which were quickly removed from the artefacts, and the imagery was used commercially without the payment of the artists, fact that led to many copyright court cases (e.g., David Malangi’s dollar case and the Bullen-Bullen case).

Professor Layton continued with the land rights movement. The connection between artistic imagery and land rights can be seen clearly through the Yirrkala bark petition. Known as the magna carta for aboriginal people, it was a petition presented to the Australian parliament calling for recognition of Aboriginal land rights. The peculiarity of the Yirrkala petition lies in the fact that the emblems of the affected clans were painted around the margin of the petition. This was an attempt again to find a common understanding between the aboriginals and the colonists. The attempt to translate the aboriginal culture has been a daunting task and Professor Layton kept coming back to the mismatch of perceptions between the colonists and aboriginals.

The fight for land rights was not an easy one. Before the colonists arrived, the clans used to let others enter their estates and hunt or fish, for instance, but they would give them a permission to do so. Additionally, if a clan died out, there was no perpetuity and someone else could settle in that estate. The significance of these elements is observed in the dispute between the Yolngu people and the Nabalco Mining Company wishing to mine on the Gove Peninsula. It led the Northern Territory Supreme Court to hold that the clans did not have an exclusive right in the disputed estate, as the exclusive element was demanded by English law for the recognition of ownership. Also, in general, the land claim process was multi-faceted. It required anthropologists to document the claim, lawyers to check the claimants’ case, a judge to hear the evidence and legal arguments for and against the claim, and only then could a recommendation be made to the Government. The most significant case is the Mabo case on Native Titles, which established the legal recognition of rights that existed before colonisation, if they were not extinguished. However, as you might suspect, it is particularly hard to prove continuous exercise of rights in a colonised country like Australia.

The talk ended with questions coming from the audience on the patriarchal and matriarchal characteristics of the aboriginal clans, the clans’ own way of resolving conflict regarding land rights and the comparison with other native rights movements, for example in Canada and USA. A last remark was made on the current policy regarding aboriginals in Australia and its downfall, as after the sympathetic government policies in the 70s-80s, there is a return to oppression with the 2007 Northern Territory ‘Intervention’ and the suspension of the Race Discrimination Act.

Special thanks to Professor Layton for this thought-provoking seminar, which calls us to reconsider our current stance on the concept of global citizenship.

Ustinov Intercultural Forum – Day of the Dead

By Sanjukta Nair 

Photo Credit: Matthew Roberts

Despite its morbid sounding name and proximity to Halloween, the Day of the Dead is a joyous celebration of family, love, life and death. It is a day dedicated to remembering the souls of the departed by focusing on everything that they loved, and to celebrate close familial relationships. Since we Ustinovians consider ourselves to be part of one big family, the Ustinov Intercultural Forum decided to bring this festival from Mexico and Latin America to Sheraton Park, with the help of some of our fellow students from the Mexican Society. They helped to set up a three-tiered ofrenda (altar) near the entrance of the Ustinov Cafe, initially illuminated with candles, decorated with yellow marigold flowers, and photographic remembrances of departed relatives in order to give it a more personal touch.

We began the event with an informative talk by Dr. Pérez Marín (Assistant Professor / Deputy Director of Postgraduate Studies in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures), explaining the history and significance of this festival, and how it has caught international attention and is developing itself accordingly. Students who attended had questions to ask once the talk was over. She also shared some personal items to give attendees a better understanding of the festival. Once the talk was over, Ustinovians (as well as parents and their children from the nearby community) were invited to decorate sugar skulls that had been prepared previously. While the kids were engrossed in decorating their skulls with colours and stars, some of the attendees chose to make their own papel picado (paper cutting) decorations with some helpful instructions from the Mexican society, all with upbeat and catchy Mexican songs playing in the background.

Since we wanted to reward the kids for their hard work, a piñata was set up outside Sheraton Park, and each were given turns to try and break it open. As expected, there was a mad rush for the fallen sweets! At the end, some of the decorated skulls were put on the ofrenda, while the rest were either taken home or given to the Mexican Society for their own Dia de Los Muertos event at the Durham Student Union! All in all, the Day of The Dead event at Ustinov was a successful beginning to our Intercultural Forum events for this year, one that was enjoyed by attendees of all ages.

Volunteering at the Christmas Festival

By Kristine Kivle

On the 30th of November the Ustinov GCP volunteering team was fortunate to participate in the Nevilles Cross Christmas festival. Followed by several weeks of planning, organising and other preparations the festival was a great success.

Throughout the afternoon, both local and non-local families, children, students and adults came together to kick off the holiday season. It was a great way to build a bridge between the College and the local community and really get to know our neighbours. We were not only accompanied by humans, but also had a visit from Elvis the Reindeer, two beautiful owls and Santa and his elves.

It was a lovely festival filled with Christmas spirit, tasty treats, arts and crafts as well as Christmas music and other entertainment. For our international students it also gave valuable insight into English Christmas traditions and an opportunity of cultural exchange. All together it was a lovely experience for all involved and put us all in the right Christmas spirit. Our team was also involved in creating the Sheraton Park advent calendar in cooperation with the local community. The calendar is a beautiful display of arts, culture, traditions and Christmas spirit. The calendar can be seen in the windows at Ustinov College throughout December. 
As the Head of the GCP Volunteering team I would like to thank all volunteers for their efforts and help with the Christmas festival. I also want to thank the local resident’s group for embracing us and including us in the project. I would further like to extend a particular thank you to Mandeep Smith for all her efforts and coordination with the project!  Follow our Facebook page for more info on the Christmas Festival: You can also read what the local newspaper had to say about the event here:

Xmas Recycling with Arts

On Monday 3rd of December, the team Café Scientifique invited Ustinov college students to participate in a discussion panel about recycling, followed by the result of the competition for the best Xmas tree with recycled materials.

The event was very productive, attendees discussed different methods of recycling and what are the side effects on different countries; environmental and social. Then, participants had the opportunity to talk about their point of view about recycling at the College, we had the pleasure to count with the presence of the Principal from Ustinov College: Professor Glenn McGregor. As a result of our discussion panel, we got a list of suggestions to make our College more sustainable, not just focussing on recycling.
At the end of the discussion panel, Kimberly Liu was rewarded with an Amazon voucher for her original idea of the Xmas tree, the design consisted of using a plastic bottle of water and her own hair! decorations used were recycled too. Congratulations to Kim!! We have the chance to try her design!!

US Midterm Elections: What lies in the uncertain future?

On Tuesday 6th November 2018, Café Politique organised and hosted their first event of the academic year.

Their seminar, titled: ‘US Midterm Elections: What lies in the uncertain future?’ was in conjunction with the election date itself.

Café Politique invited Durham University’s School of Governmental and International Affairs’ very own Dr Patrick Kuhn and Dr Neil Visalvanich, who provided a presentation on the science behind election predictions, statistical data, and how it can be interpreted. 

Additionally, opinion polls were highlighted as sometimes being an inaccurate indicator for predicting results, as some people choose not to show their true voting intentions. The significance of youth turnout was also addressed, revealing the power the youth demographic has for potentially swinging election results. Furthermore, our guest speakers provided their own insightful predictions for what they believe the US Midterm Election results will show. 

Retrospectively, we can see that they were correct in regard to the outcomes of the election. The Democrats did gain control of the House of Representatives and the Republicans did maintain control of the Senate. After the presentation we held a thirty minute Q+A session, which had high engagement and fruitful debate.

 Following the success of Café Politique’s first event, we look forward to seeing you all early next year for our next event on the war in Yemen. More details to be revealed soon!

Ustinov Research Round Table – Thursday 15th November

                                                       By Marianna Iliadou

                                                             Seminar Series

How can you join smart cities, nationalism, wind turbines and regiment in global leadership? Through the Ustinov Research Round Table of course! This is an event organised by the Seminar Series team of the Ustinov’s Global Citizenship Programme (GCP), bringing together Ustinovians to share their own research.

In the year’s first Research Round Table, we managed to bring together speakers from the Department of Engineering, Geography, SGIA and Business School. This was extremely exciting, given its interdisciplinary character.

Briefly outlining the discussion, our first speaker, Roger Cox, talked about the maintenance record labelling of wind turbine data for fault prognosis and particularly the Bernoulli Naïve Bayes Classifier. Miklós Dürr, the second speaker, gave an account of smart cities by studying the case of Miskolc in Hungary, discussing broader matters, as its implication for minorities and mass surveillance. The third speaker, Eleanor Ferguson, shared her research interest in nationalism, using in particular the example of Italy and the recent rise to power of the Northern League. The last speaker, Etido Ekwere, explained in a cheerful and entertaining way what regiments in global leadership mean and emphasised the value of personal regiment, as it helps build influence and it is essential for aspiring global leaders.

The speakers participating in the Ustinov Research Round Table were given the opportunity to practise their presentation skills, discuss their work in a relaxed environment and get feedback from people coming from different academic disciplines. Additionally, the event provided other Ustinovians the opportunity to get an insight into their peer’s research. Creating these spaces of dialogue are very important for our community, helping us explore different disciplines, share our stories and engage in productive dialogue.

Interested in participating in (or attending) future Seminar Series events? Stay tuned for upcoming events advertised in our different social media accounts.

The Selfish Gene

By Marianna Iliadou

‘Have you heard of Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene?’ ‘Do you want to know more about replicators, vehicles, memes and the so-called ‘genes-eye view’ of evolution?’ Since its advertising, this event looked very promising. But we were even more amazed by the presentation and explanation given by Dr Duncan Stibbard Hawkes!

We invited Dr Stibbard Hawkes, from the Anthropology Department of Durham University, to talk about Richard Dawkins’ book The Selfish Gene written in 1976. Dr Stibbard Hawkes started with Darwin’s theory of evolution, natural selection and its three rules: replication/reproduction, differential reproduction and mutation. To do this, our speaker used an amusing representation of how organisms replicate themselves; choosing M&Ms to illustrate this was indeed amusing and got the participants’ attention and a few giggles.

However, much of this has been said before Dawkins. So, what was his contribution to the field? Dawkins used the gene as the smallest unit as opposed to organisms and this is why he called his approach a ‘gene’s-eye view of evolution’. But why ‘selfish’? Dawkins’ later regretted using this term, as most people associate it with the human behaviour of being selfish. However, what Dawkins meant was that genes endeavour to replicate themselves and hence, figuratively, are selfish. Genes are immortal, while organisms can ‘die’. This is also related to the survival of the fittest, meaning, in simple terms, those that are better in copying themselves. In fact, according to Dawkins, genes are often rather more cooperative than they are selfish as, using Dawkins’ ‘rowing’ analogy, they cooperate like rowers in a boat. Actually, it is when genes don’t work together that anomalies, such as cancer, take place. Also, his book The Selfish Gene is very popular, because for the first time someone used common language to describe evolution, addressed to a non-specialist audience.

Continuing with the theory of evolution, Dr Stibbard Hawkes explained that with replicators in asexual reproduction the whole genome recombines, and the disadvantage is that if a mistake or a ‘mutation’ occurs all the future generations are stuck with the same mistake. This could be very serious, as the genome, a result of asexual reproduction, can accumulate deleterious genes in an irreversible manner (‘Muller’s ratchet’). On the other hand, in sexual reproduction the gene becomes separable from the genome and the advantage is half of the future generations can escape from deleterious genes. Human beings are diploid organisms (they have two sets of homogenous chromosomes) and have haploid sex cells that are recombined to create a new one.

Finally, our speaker talked about the concept of the meme (yes, a meme as we all know it and use it in social media). It was Dawkins that first used the term ‘meme’ in The Selfish Gene. There are some replications that cannot be explained, and Dawkins uses the term ‘meme’, using the metaphor of a virus, as anything that has the ability to convey from one person to another with an attempt of copying itself accurately. Memes, as opposed to what we saw before, spread through the behaviour they generate.

After the presentation, some of the questions posed were related to demographic transition, mutation and whether it can be seen as a good thing, Neanderthals, and gene editing techniques. Most importantly, there was a clarification that we shouldn’t refer to genes as superior or inferior, but rather as better or worse at copying themselves in particular environments.

Special thanks to Dr Duncan Stibbard Hawkes for his kind presentation and to everyone who attended the seminar.

Women Priests in the Church of England

By Marianna Iliadou

Is it possible for women to become priests? The answer is yes when it comes to the Church of England.

On Friday 9th March 2018, Café Politique hosted an event on women priests in the Church of England. The idea behind the event was to explore women’s empowerment and involvement in areas traditionally dominated by men. Additionally, the seminar offered a great opportunity for students with different backgrounds to get to know more about the Church of England and the British culture.

The event kicked off with Mr Alex Fry, PhD Student in the Department of Theology & Religion and Pastoral Tutor of St John’s College. Mr Fry discussed the particular circumstances that ‘allowed’ for this development in the Church of England: Henry VIII of England and the series of events in the 16th Century that led to the English Reformation (separation of the Church of England from the Roman Catholic Church); the rise in the number of English protestants; the mix of Evangelicals and Catholics, as well as other important cultural and key social changes. It is true that after the two world wars, women in the absence of men started doing jobs traditionally held by men. This way, women’s autonomy outside the household was increased.   

But when did the ordination of women in the Church of England commence? It was in 1994 that the first ordination of women took place in Bristol. Before that, it was possible for women to be deacons or carry different duties, without being paid. Feelings were varied regarding the first ordination of women. There were also fears regarding the relationship between the Catholic Church and the Church of England. It is remarkable that only 30 years after the first ordination did it become possible for women to acquire higher positions in the ecclesiastical hierarchy. In 2015, Libby Lane became the first woman bishop, holding the third most senior position within the Church of England.

After presenting these historical facts, Mr Fry then continued with his own research, namely why some male clergy reject the validity of women’s ordination in the Church of England. After explaining his research method, he shared with us some of the comments made by male clergy. Most of the comments were around the differences between men and women and that there is a God-given order that men do some things better than women and vice versa.

Then the baton was handed over to Revd Lindsey Goodhew, Associate Minister and Student Worker in St Nicholas Church, Durham. Revd Goodhew was trained at Cranmer Hall at St John’s College, served as deacon in 1993 and was ordained priest in July 1994. She was present at the event to share with us her first-hand experience as a female ordained priest.

When Revd Goodhew began her training, women were not allowed to be priests, so she started without knowing if she would end up as a deacon or priest. However, after being ordained, she started her work in Bristol, then Cambridge and York and the last 9 years in St Nicholas Church, Durham, mentoring students. During these years of practice, she has not faced some of the challenges and prejudice some other female priests have faced and her experience has been overall very positive. The different treatment she faced at the beginning of her vocation to the priesthood had to do more with her age than her gender, as she was very young when ordained and had to deal with some paternalistic behaviour from a number of men.

Nonetheless, what was more challenging for Revd Goodhew is the fact that both she and her husband are priests. The difficulty consists in the fact that priests need to be free whenever possible, as there is still a (very) male model of ministry that is based on a male priest having someone back home doing everything so that they are free to fulfil their call 24/7.

The event ended after the floor was opened for the Q&A session. Through a lively interaction between the two speakers and the audience, some of the main issues discussed were the role of the figure of Mary in the Anglo-Catholic culture and whether this shows a general attitude towards women, the possibility of inter-faith discussion about women in leading roles within religion, the text of the Bible and whether it serves as a basis for the distinct role of women and men, etc.

Special thanks to Mr Alex Fry and Revd Lindsey Goodhew for their kind participation and to everyone who attended the seminar.