Welcome to MeCCSA, the subject association that represents all who teach or research in Higher Education in media, communications and cultural studies, whether in arts, humanities or social sciences departments.
In this issue:
1 Redefining the ‘new normal’ before it sets (Einar Thorsen)
Covid-19: higher education
5 Digital learning and teaching: reflections on identity and efficacy (Doug Specht)
6 Public Health Emergencies (Melanie Brown)
7 Returning to the ‘new normal’ (Judith Aston & Stefano Odorico)
9 The Home Front: student multimedia journalism in lockdown (Barbara Henderson)
Covid-19: media and journalism
10 Can local news survive the crisis? (Rachel Matthews, David Baines & Agnes Gulyas)
12 How community radio in the UK rose to the challenge of COVID-19 (Josephine Coleman)
14 Sanitary crisis as a test for media freedom (Mélanie Dupéré)
15 Imagining a new future: 2020 and women working in the screen sector (Leung Wing-Fai)
17 Changes (Julian Petley)
19 Statement on sexualised abuses of power (call for signatures)
Reports and Initiatives
22 Chair’s report (Anita Biressi)
26 Policy Network (Phil Ramsey)
27 Local and Community Media Network (Rachel Matthews)
28 Radio Studies Network (Janieann McCracken)
28 Postgraduate Network (Emma Kaylee Graves & Bissie Anderson)
MeCCSA one of 49 professional academic associations to join in call for “new deal for higher education.”
As UK higher education institutions reportedly fall in the global rankings, forty-nine professional associations representing diverse academic research fields and thousands of UK-based academics wrote on 16 June 2020 to Education Ministers in the UK and devolved governments calling for “a new deal for higher education.” Their letter, published below, points out that the sharp drop in universities’ income, as a result of a fall in student numbers in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, will endanger the ability of the UK Higher Education sector to maintain excellence in education and research, with grave consequences for the economy and society.
The Secretary of State for Education, RT Hon Gavin Williamson CBE
Minister of State for Universities, Hon Michelle Donelan
Minister for Education in Wales, Kirsty Williams MS
Minister for Higher Education and Science in Scotland, Richard Lochhead MSP
Minister for the Department of Education of Northern Ireland, Peter Weir MLA
Minister for Science, Research and Innovation, Amanda Solloway
June 16, 2020
Dear Mr. Williamson, Ms. Donelan, Ms. Williams, Mr. Lochhead, Mr. Weir and Ms. Solloway:
We are writing to you as officers of 49 professional associations representing diverse research fields to express our profound concern about the future of higher education in the UK. COVID-19 has simultaneously highlighted the huge importance of university research to tackling the virus and its social and economic implications as well as the unsustainability of the current funding model for tertiary education.
Higher education makes a fundamentally significant contribution to society. It expands our knowledge and understanding of the world through an array of research discoveries, improves the life chances of individuals by enhancing social mobility and opportunities, advances the economy by carrying out innovative research, and provides each new generation with cultural knowledge as well as cutting edge skills and expertise. Yet, currently, UK public spending on tertiary education amounts to only a quarter of university budgets, which is not only the lowest among OECD countries, but comprises considerably less than half of the average spending among the OECD’s other 34 countries. It is therefore not surprising that nearly 25 percent of all UK universities were in deficit even before the pandemic and that now, due to a dramatic drop in projected income, almost all higher education institutions in the country will face huge obstacles to carry out their mission and remain internationally competitive without government support.
A vibrant and robust higher education system is absolutely vital for the UK’s future. We believe that the current government funding model for higher education is inadequate for this task and we therefore call upon you to use the current crisis as an opportunity to create a new deal for higher education. Rather than providing a one-time bailout, it is paramount that the UK and devolved governments substantially increases public spending on tertiary education in line with the OECD average in order to ensure that our tertiary institutions remain at the forefront of global research, education and innovation.
African Studies Association of the United Kingdom – Professor Ambreena Manji
Architectural Humanities Research Association — Professor Jonathan Hale
Arts and Humanities Alliance — Professor Susan Bruce
Association for Art History — Professor Frances Fowle
Association for German Studies — Professor Margaret Littler
Association for Welsh Writing in English — Professors Kirsti Bohata and Matthew Jarvis
Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK and Ireland — Doctor John Miller
Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland — Professor Claire Taylor
Association of Programmes in Translation and Interpreting Studies — Doctors JC Penet and Olga Castro
Association for Publishing Education — Professor Claire Squires
Association of University Professors and Heads of French — Professor Marion Schmid
British Association for American Studies — Doctor Cara Rodway
British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience — Professor Jamie Ward
British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies — Doctor Matthias Neumann
British Association for South Asian Studies — Professor Patricia Jeffery
British Association for Study of Religions – Professor Bettina Schmidt
British Association for Victorian Studies — Professor Dinah Birch CBE
British Association of Academic Phoneticians – Professor Jane Stuart-Smith
British Association of Critical Legal Scholars — Professor Adam Gearey
British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies — Doctor James Leggott
British Comparative Literature Association – Professor Susan Bassnett
British International Studies Association — Professor Mark Webber
British Philosophical Association — Professor Fiona Macpherson, FRSE, MAE
British Society for Middle Eastern Studies — Professor Haleh Afshar
British Society for the History of Science — Doctor Tim Boon
British Sociological Association — Professor Susan Halford
British Universities Industrial Relations Association — Professor Tony Dobbins
Council of University Classical Departments — Professor Helen Lovatt
Economic History Society – Professor Catherine Schenk
English Association — Doctor Rebecca Fisher
Feminist Studies Association — Doctors Laura Clancy and Sara De Benedictis,
History UK — Doctors Lucinda Matthews-Jones, Yolana Pringle and Jamie Wood
Learned Society of Wales — Professor Helen Fulton
Linguistics Association of Great Britain — Professor Caroline Heycock
Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association — Professor Anita Biressi
Modern Humanities Research Association – Doctor Barbara Burns
Newcomen Society – Doctor Jonathan Aylen
Oral History Society – Professor John Gabriel
Royal Musical Association – Professor Simon McVeigh
Royal Society of Literature — Professor Marina Warner, DBE, CBE, FBA
Socio-Legal Studies Association — Professor Rosie Harding
Society for French Studies — Professor Judith Still
Society for Latin American Studies — Professor Patience Schell
Society for Old Testament Study — Doctor Walter Houston
Society for Renaissance Studies — Professor Richard Wistreich
Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry – Professor Frank James
Standing Conference of University Drama Departments – Professor Kate Newey
Theatre & Performance Research Association – Professor Roberta Mock
University Council of Modern Languages — Professor Claire Gorrara
Women in German Studies — Professor Ingrid Sharp
It is with great regret to announce that we will not be holding MECCSA 2021 in Aberdeen on the premises of Robert Gordon University in January 2021, as was planned. We have made this difficult decision because of the likely longer term uncertainties and impacts of Covid-19, and the social distancing measures that will probably stay with us in some form for some time to come. Given that our conferences typically attract 200-300 people from all over the UK and beyond, we feel that postponing the conference is the safe and sensible thing to do at this point.
We will however organise online activities around the time of the conference in January, so there will be opportunities for our networks and members to come together in some way. There will be further announcements about these in due course.
We are also keen not to miss out on the wonders of Aberdeen, thus have decided to hold MeCCSA 2022 at Robert Gordon University in January 2022. This also means that our conference in Falmouth is postponed from January 2022 to January 2023.
We are all very disappointed about not physically meeting up with you in January (and miss out, among other things, on the all-important pub quiz), but hope you understand that the health and safety of our members and community is our highest priority.
In the meantime, I encourage you to follow our MeCCSA discussion list where you find some exciting opportunities to engage with the work and activities of our networks and members.
Best wishes and Keep safe
Chair of MECCSA Association Activities Committee
UPDATED: RESPONSE FROM HEFCE AND THE CHAIR OF PANEL D
Recently BAFTSS and MeCCSA agreed the below joint statement in response to concern about the initial decisions by HECFCE regarding REF 2021 that included naming Film and Screen Studies explicitly in sub-panel 33 (Music, Dance, Drama, Performing Arts, Film and Screen Studies). This joint statement was sent to Kim Hackett at HEFCE and to Dinah Birch, Chair REF2021 Panel D. They have sent the following response that provides some helpful clarification. We will continue to ensure that these issues are understood and addressed by the relevant sub-panel Chairs and panel members:
We understand the concern raised about a potential effect on submissions caused by including ‘Film and Screen Studies’ in the name of UOA33. The funding bodies’ decision to include this field of research in a UOA name sought to respond to concerns raised about visibility, and the decision of where to locate it was informed by both responses to our consultation and further engagement with the relevant subject bodies. However, the decision to include it in a UOA name is not intended to preclude the submission of film and screen research in another UOA, where this is the most appropriate place for its submission. We will ensure that the published guidance provides clarity on this point, and encourages the submission of film and screen research into the most appropriate UOA. As with the previous panel criteria, this may include explicit reference to film and screen studies in the relevant UOA descriptors. We will work in particular with the sub-panels for UOAs 33 and 34, to ensure clarity is provided on submissions into each of these UOAs, and on the sub-panels’ working methods to ensure a consistent assessment approach.
Kim Hackett, HEFCE
Dinah Birch, Chair, Panel D
MeCCSA has produced a film to answer some of the frequently asked questions about studying subjects in our field at University. Feel free to share and use to promote your own courses as you wish.
See also our information brochure: Studying Media, Film and Communication at University: choosing the right course for you (PDF, 268k)
…and our FAQ section.
In view of the wide diversity of disciplinary orientation, methodological approach, and conceptual foundation of research in our field, MeCCSA does not publish a detailed code of research practice. Instead MeCCSA has published a statement that outlines a broad set of principles and links to a range of research practice guidelines from various associations, which we believe may be of value in the conduct of members’ research.
At the recent AGM at the University of Bedfordshire, 12th January 2012, the following resolution was passed:
This AGM supports the initiative of the Coordinating Committee for Media Reform in its submission to Leveson, and further public forums, as a proper and fruitful stimulus to well-informed debate.
MeCCSA on JISCmail
MeCCSA and its Networks operate discussion and information lists through the JISCmail system. Click the following links for information or to join:
- MeCCSA Climate Change Network
- MeCCSA Disability Studies Network
- MeCCSA Local and Community Media Network List
- MeCCSA Policy Network
- MeCCSA Postgraduate Network
- MeCCSA Race, Ethnicity and Postcolonial Network List
- MeCCSA Social Movements Network List
- MeCCSA Women’s Network
The MeCCSA Radio Studies Network encourages interested colleagues to subscribe to the Radio Studies list, a forum for teachers, researchers and broadcasters active since 1998.
To post a message on the list if you are not a subscriber (subject to approval), please get in touch with Elizabeth Poole.
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For any queries regarding MeCCSA membership, please email the membership secretary, Gillian Mason.
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