Prospects

I try to go for a walk early every morning – a half hour turn around the streets near home.  Although it’s an urban walk, as the mornings have got lighter, there are unmistakable signs of spring: bulbs in verges, trees coming into leaf and into blossom, birdsong.  It’s a reminder that behind the timetables…

A year

On Monday 16 March 2020, a group of the university’s senior staff met in the Vice-Chancellor’s office to work through the changing coronavirus situation and emerging government guidance.  We knew the Prime Minister was to address the nation the next day.  We’d worked through information on students, courses and the campus, and had already made…

Metaphors

The most important and interesting ideas in politics and policy are abstract.  ‘Opportunity’, ‘equality’, ‘freedom’, ‘fairness’, ‘choice’, ‘quality’ and so on are all ideas which are powerful driving forces but need to be given context and meaning in order to make a difference to people’s lives and to society.  A good deal of policy disagreement…

Unpredictable

There used to be a market for almanacs of predictions about the year ahead. Perhaps there still is. These almanacs were always frankly unbelievable, not simply because the future is by definition unknowable but because the predictions were always on the apocalyptic side – the way to sell these things is to veer towards the…

So this is Christmas

The 1970s were the apogee decade for Christmas hits: by turns cheesy, embarrassing and, very occasionally, memorable. They still get piped endlessly in shops each year. John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s was from 1971. The lyrics are far from Lennon’s best, but the song essentially begins with “So this is Christmas/And what have you done/Another…

Connections

Universities are complex organisations. Sheffield Hallam – 4500 staff and 32000 students – is the size of a small town. That remains true even if, over the past few months, the town has become a series of connected hamlets as we have all become used to working in radically different ways. Our core purposes may…

Fairy tale endings

In November 2016, following the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the American presidential election, I wrote a blog on election outcomes and the values of the university. Now that the Trump era has been brought to a close by the 2020 election, it seems right to come back to American politics and what they…

Difficult Conversations

Jacob Billington graduated in Geography from Sheffield Hallam in 2019. He was overjoyed to have been successful in his application for a year-long graduate internship working with the Library team. Over the summer of 2020, he worked on developing the University’s welcome communications for new students, welcoming them to our socially distanced provision. At the…

Values

I stopped counting some time ago: the number of days and weeks since we were required to transition the university into remote operation – so it is salutary to be reminded that we are now entering the seventh month of what is, in effect, an extended incident response. There are competing pressures every day, with…

Horizons

This is an extremely challenging week. The news has been dominated by rising Covid infections rates and speculation about tightening local and national restrictions. For universities, increased numbers of reported positive cases have prompted decisions to increase the proportion of online teaching. At Sheffield Hallam, we have taken the decision to adjust the balance between…