The Orwell Lecture in the North 2017, by Grayson Perry: ‘I’ve read all the academic texts on empathy’

In an increasingly uncertain political climate, people are searching for answers. Why do people think in certain ways? Why do they believe certain things (sometimes in spite of evidence to the contrary)? Following the Brexit vote, a narrative quickly emerged that Britain was a divided country, riven with cultural, economic and political tensions. But if this is the case, what can we do about this? How can we – as individuals – work to repair these divisions and build a more connected, understanding society?

The answer is empathy, says Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry. In his Orwell lecture at the University of Sheffield, he suggested that – as a society – we are suffering from a collective lack of empathy: a fear of dialogue, of being exposed to other people’s views and, ultimately, of changing our minds. Continue reading

The value of the Arts and Humanities

With the arts and humanities under unprecedented threat, the perceived value of arts subjects has recently become a hot topic of discussion and debate.  Increasingly, arts and humanities subjects which were once considered prestigious are now labelled ‘soft’ subjects.  In response, academics, teachers and educators are coming forward to defend the arts and humanities, asserting the value of these disciplines and the benefits that they offer to students, both in school and at university level. Continue reading

Mindfulness at University

This autumn, students at the University of Sheffield have been offered the opportunity to participate in a mindfulness meditation course.  Subscribers are sent one ten-minute guided meditation track every day.  These are intended to be practised daily in order to help individuals to cultivate a more mindful approach to everyday life.  This free, flexible mindfulness programme is a welcome opportunity for students to improve focus and general wellbeing. Continue reading

Five great places to visit (all easily accessible from Sheffield!)

As all students know, university life can sometimes be hectic and exhausting.  What better way to rest and recuperate than with an exciting day out or a weekend away?  Here are some of my favourite places to visit near Sheffield – and they can all be reached easily by train or bus.  So dig out your rucksack, grab a map from your local library and start planning your mini-break or day-trip in one of the many attractive towns, cities and countryside locations! Continue reading

Sheffield in song: great music inspired by the Steel City

When I first moved to Sheffield in 2009 – to study Music at the University – I didn’t know much about Sheffield and the surrounding area.  In fact, I had only visited the city once, to attend a University open day.  However, as a teenage fan of bands like Pulp and Arctic Monkeys, I felt like I had gleaned a knowledge of the city from their songs, which included references to locations around Sheffield and local landmarks. Continue reading

Maintaining a healthy and balanced lifestyle at University

There’s no doubt that, for many students, university life can be overwhelming. For undergraduate students, there is enormous pressure to meet deadlines and achieve academically, while also maintaining a busy schedule of socializing and extra-curricular activities. For postgraduates, the pressure is different but no less intense; the often solitary postgraduate lifestyle can take its toll, and many postgraduates are under pressure to develop their careers, network and gain valuable work experience alongside their studies. Continue reading

Witnessing the impact of climate change in rural India

Last year marked a significant year in the fight against climate change. In November and early December, world leaders and international delegates gathered in Paris for the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference. The aim of the conference was to work towards a universal global agreement to combat climate change, outlining measures to reduce carbon emissions and ameliorate the effects of global warming. There can be little doubt that the resulting Paris Agreement is a step in the right direction. However, some scientists and activists have argued that the Agreement is too little, too late, and have raised questions about the efficacy and enforceability of its proposals. Continue reading

Have yourself a tacky little Christmas: the politics of festive taste

As a PhD researcher studying how people experience music in everyday life, I constantly find myself thinking about taste. In many ways, taste is a lens through which we see the world; it dictates the stuff we buy, the things we do for fun and the way we represent ourselves. It influences the music we listen to, the television we watch, the clothes we wear and the food in our fridges. In other words, taste determines the cultural wallpaper of our lives. Continue reading

Sheffield: city of music

A recent report commissioned by The University of Sheffield suggests that Sheffield has the potential to become one of the UK’s leading music cities. With 465 active bands, 69 venues and 65 recording studios, Sheffield has a thriving music scene and a vibrant musical culture.

As a postgraduate Music student at Sheffield (who also studied undergraduate Music here), I have had the opportunity to get involved with the musical life of the city. In my experience, Sheffield has a phenomenally supportive musical community, and there are loads of exciting musical opportunities in the city. To celebrate this, I have compiled a list of things that make Sheffield a great music city. Continue reading