Reading Research Blog

Why don’t local people have a greater say in their neighbourhoods?

Professor Gavin Parker’s research has been exploring the issues involved in neighbourhood planning since the policy was introduced by the government in 2011. In a new post for The Conversation, he writes about why the policy has not delivered what people, politicians and planners had hoped.

People power in Totnes. Sophie Wilder/Flickr., CC BY-NC

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Finding the fires of early humans

Our controlled use of fire is arguably one of the most significant developments in human history. But when and where did we first start to use it? Rebecca Scott, Mark Curtis and Rob Hosfield tell us about their archaeological detective work to find the traces of camp fires from around 500,000 years ago.

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Why forecasting floods should be a global collaborative effort

Flood forecasting must integrate work on the ground with disaster managers, humanitarians and scientists on a global scale if we are to save more lives and limit destruction from floods, says Dr Andrea Ficchi in a new post for The Conversation

Flooding in Mozambique following Cyclone Idai, March 2019. Image credit: Denis Onyodi/Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre
Flooding in Mozambique following Cyclone Idai, March 2019. Image credit: Denis Onyodi/Red Cross Red Crescent Climate Centre

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Secrets of the perfect seed – and its vulnerability to future climate change

A recent paper by Professor Richard Ellis has got seed scientists talking because it is rewriting the textbooks on when a developing seed reaches peak quality. It also exposes possible threats to food security and biodiversity as we experience more climate change-related heatwaves, he writes.

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Seven things you probably didn’t know about life in medieval castles

Dr Karen Dempsey’s research tells the stories of medieval people’s lives through the objects they used and cared about, in the spaces where they lived and worked. Here she tells us some unexpected facts about daily life in medieval castles.

Bodiam Castle by Adam Kumiszcza CC BY-SA 4.0/wikimedia commons

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The Jungle Book: more than just an imperialist tale for children?

Is Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book a simple allegory for colonial rule in India? Or is it about what it is to belong, and to be human? Ahead of her BBC Radio 3 talk to be broadcast during a Prom featuring music inspired by the book, Dr Sue Walsh provides her take on Mowgli’s famous adventures.

Some of the music to be played at the Prom on the evening of 20 August will be Charles Koechlin’s Les Bandar-log, a piece that was part of his nearly life long effort to set the whole of The Jungle Book to music. It’s for this reason that I will be taking part in a BBC Radio 3 Proms Plus talk on the subject, to be broadcast during the interval.

Imperialist relic?

The Jungle Books themselves were first published in 1894 and 1895, and they feature stories about Mowgli, a boy raised by wolves in the Indian Jungle. The stories have remained popular, inspiring numerous adaptations, but their attitudes have been questioned by some parents and critics, who see them as a relic of Britain’s colonial past.

Indeed, a classic way of reading the tales is as an allegory for the position of the white colonialist born and raised in India, and Mowgli, the Indian boy who becomes ‘Master’ of the jungle, is understood to be ‘behaving towards the beasts as the British do to the Indians’ (as John McLure, author of Kipling and Conrad, interprets it).

This account, while persuasive in many ways, seems to me to be a bit reductive. It misses some of the interesting questions the stories raise about notions of belonging and identity. Continue reading “The Jungle Book: more than just an imperialist tale for children?”

Doing business better: can we create a more ethical Reading?

Most people would agree that companies should stick to certain ethical standards, but does it make good businesses sense when a firm needs to make a profit to survive? Yes it does, writes Professor Emma Borg, who has recently led development of a Code of Ethics for Reading businesses.

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How our animal research is working on the biggest problems – from heart disease to climate change

This week we’re highlighting the animal research work we do at the University of Reading, following last week’s release of national figures on the number of animals used in research in 2018. Here, Professor Parveen Yaqoob writes about why using animals in research is crucial for tackling some of the biggest problems the world faces.

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