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Lincoln Law Professor Duncan French Discussing Environmental Crime at UN


Professor Duncan French, Head of Lincoln Law School, has recently been in Rome to attend a 2 day Experts Group Meeting organised by UN Environment (UNEP) and UN Interegional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI) on combatting environmental crime.

As a member of the technical advisory group, Professor French has been involved since the beginning of the project and led conversations during the experts meeting.

The next stage is for the group to revise the document on which the project has been working, for preparation for the UN Environment Assembly, the most senior political body in the UN System exclusively focused on environmental matters.

Professor French notes: “it has been a huge honour to be involved in this process, and to develop relations not only with UN colleagues but other experts and intergovernmental officials seeking to tackle environmental crime”.

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Children Aged Three To Ten Become Latest ‘Summer Scientists’


More than 240 children were given a taste of scientific research when they became ‘Summer Scientists’, helped by staff and students as part of a major public research event.

The annual University of Lincoln event, now in its seventh year, was held for the first time in the newly opened £19million Sarah Swift Building, which is home to the Schools of Psychology and Health and Social Care.

Children aged between three and ten years old participated in a series of accessible games and activities which explored different aspects of cognitive development, from testing visual perception, impulsive behaviour and coordination, to recognising emotion and altruism. A total of nine research games were delivered by experienced academic staff, supported by a team of around 30 student volunteers.

One game examined if there are links between how a child interprets sounds and their approach to taking risks, while another, which was a collaboration between the School of Psychology and the School of Computer Science, used a small humanoid robot called Nao to interact with children in a study which aims to improve the lives of people with autism.

Alongside the carefully structured research activities, the event featured a fun zone with face painting, science discovery games, and hook-a-duck among others.

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The popular Summer Scientist programme took place at the University of Lincoln’s main Brayford Pool Campus between Monday and Friday last week (21st – 25th August 2017).

Organiser Dr Niko Kargas said the week had been a huge success. “Summer Scientist is a chance to show children that science can be fun, and inspire the next generation of scientists through interactive games, and also a way for us to involve our local community in the work we do as a university.

“There is also a real academic value to the week-long activities; we are collecting data through a series of research ‘games’ which will give us valuable information about a child’s cognitive and developmental psychology; why would one child respond to something one way, and another child behave differently?

“It’s also a chance for students to take an active role in research activities at both undergraduate and postgraduate level, which is vital to help build their understanding of academic research as they progress through their degree – something we pride ourselves on at Lincoln.

“We were oversubscribed in just a few hours of opening bookings this year, with quite a few children who have previously participated in the event joining us again. We suspect we will have the same interest next year.”

The findings from the research games will be used to inform real academic research and be used for papers published in academic journals.

To find out more about Psychology courses at the University of Lincoln, visit:

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Lincoln Psychology Research into Gambling Addiction and the Link to Childhood Trauma


Men with problem and pathological gambling addictions are more likely to have suffered childhood traumas including physical abuse or witnessing violence in the home, according to new research.

Psychologists examined responses in a survey of more than 3,000 men on a variety of life factors, and found that just over a quarter who had probable pathological gambling problems had witnessed violence in the home as a child. Ten per cent also reported being physically abused in childhood, and a further seven per cent said they had suffered a life-threatening injury.

Problem gamblers – those who have not yet escalated to a pathological problem, but are deemed to have a more serious addiction than non-problem gamblers – also reported higher rates of childhood trauma, with just under 23 per cent saying they had witnessed violence at home, and nine per cent experiencing physical abuse. In comparison, just eight per cent of non-problem gamblers witnessed domestic violence when they were a child, and less than four per cent had suffered abuse.

The study, led by the University of Lincoln, UK, also found that 35 per cent of pathological gamblers had suffered serious money problems as adults, 29 per cent had been convicted of a criminal offence, and almost 20 per cent had experienced relationship breakdowns. In comparison, for non-problem gamblers the figures came in at just 12, 9, and 10 per cent respectively.

The pattern of people who had previously suffered traumas in childhood or stressful events as an adult becoming pathological and problem gamblers remained even when other associated risk factors, such as substance abuse and homelessness, were accounted for. Interestingly, the more serious the gambling problem, the higher the percentage of reported childhood trauma or life stressors as an adult in all but two questions.

Researchers say the findings highlight a need for gambling treatment services to include routine screening for traumatic life events or substance abuse, so that treatments can be better tailored.

Forensic psychologist Dr Amanda Roberts, from the University of Lincoln’s School of Psychology, led the study. She said: “The links between gambling problems, trauma and life stressors have been known to exist for some time, but understanding the extent of these relationships will help early intervention and better treatment.

“We have found that among men in the United Kingdom, disordered gambling remains uniquely associated with trauma and life stressors in childhood and adulthood after adjusting for alcohol and drug dependence.

“Probable pathological gamblers and problem gamblers reported injuries, marital difficulties, homelessness, money problems and criminality more often than non/non-problem gamblers.  Taken as a whole, this suggests that disordered gambling does not occur on its own, but that it is perhaps symptomatic of other social, behavioural and psychological problems of some individuals.

“General experiences of stressful life events, such as job loss or homelessness in adulthood are not usually characterised by the same extreme psychological responses; this distinction is important, since associations with traumatic events might indicate increased vulnerability to developing gambling problems, while associations with other types of stressful life event, such as job loss, might indicate consequential harms associated with gambling.¡

The results build on Dr Roberts previous study which found that men who gamble are more likely to act violently towards others, with the most addicted gamblers the most prone to serious violence.

The new findings have been published in the journal Addictive Behaviours.

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Health and Social Care Graduate Video


Helena Buono graduated from the University of Lincoln with a BA in Health and Social Care and now works for Lincoln Students’ Union as an Employability Co-ordinator. During her course Helena discovered that she had an interest in counselling and was a skilled listener so she volunteered extensively for the Advice Centre to further develop in this area. Since graduating, Helena has utilised many of the skills she learnt on her course in her current job and is enjoying her role supporting students and helping them to become work-ready for when they leave university.

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Criminology Graduand Video

Katy Brookfield has just completed her final year studying Criminology at the University of Lincoln and she will be graduating this September. She has secured a position with the Student Wellbeing Centre here at the University as a Project Assistant and following this she will be returning to complete her Masters. We wish Katy the very best for the future and we hope to catch up with her again to find out how her post-graduate studies are going

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University of Lincoln Awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF)

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The University of Lincoln, UK, has been awarded Gold – the highest standard possible – in a national independent assessment of teaching quality in higher education.

Lincoln was awarded the prestigious status today (Thursday 22nd June 2017) in the publication of outcomes of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE).

The TEF was introduced by the Government to help better inform students’ choices about what and where to study, raise the esteem of teaching, recognise and reward excellent teaching and better meet the needs of employers, business, industry and the professions.

A Gold Award means that: “Based on the evidence available, the TEF Panel judged that the University of Lincoln delivers consistently outstanding teaching, learning and outcomes for its students. It is of the highest quality found in the UK.”

In their statement of findings on the University of Lincoln, the TEF Panel said evidence showed: “students from all backgrounds… achieve outstanding outcomes”. There was additional evidence of “a comprehensive and embedded approach to student engagement that provides opportunities for students and staff to work closely together”. The panel also commended the “outstanding physical and digital resources which pervade all aspects of student experience, including state-of-the-art teaching spaces”.

Professor Mary Stuart, Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded Gold in the Teaching Excellence Framework. We already pride ourselves on the education, experiences and opportunities we offer our students. Our TEF Gold award is further evidence of our exciting teaching, great support for students and excellent employment outcomes. It is testament to the talents and endeavours not just of our teaching staff but of everyone who makes up our academic community, including our students who so enthusiastically embrace the opportunities and challenges presented to them.”

TEF awards of gold, silver, bronze or provisional apply for up to three years and are determined by an independent panel of experts, including academics, students and employer representatives.

Higher education providers’ undergraduate teaching was assessed against criteria that cover the areas of teaching quality, learning environment and student outcomes. The TEF Panel considered evidence from a set of metrics using national data as well as written evidence submitted by universities and colleges. The metrics covered student satisfaction, retention and employment outcomes and were benchmarked to take account of differences between institutions in students’ characteristics, entry qualifications and subjects studied.

The University of Lincoln was one of only 59 higher education providers of the total 295 entering the TEF to be awarded a Gold rating.

Professor Susan Rigby, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Student Development) at Lincoln, said: “It is particularly pleasing that the TEF Panel recognised the commitment we make to student engagement across the University, including our Student as Producer ethos. The panel also highlighted as a particular strength the way in which we recognise and reward excellent teaching and our approach to personalised learning through a personal tutor system and monitoring of student progress. It is the combination of all these characteristics that create the student experience at Lincoln and provide the foundation for so much of our students’ success.”

Commenting on the release of the TEF results, Universities Minister, Jo Johnson, said: “These results, highlighting the extraordinary strengths of our higher education system, will help students choose which university or college to study at. The Teaching Excellence Framework is refocusing the sector’s attention on teaching – putting in place incentives that will raise standards across the sector and giving teaching the same status as research. Students, parents, employers and taxpayers all have a shared interest in ensuring that higher education equips the next generation of graduates for success.”

The University of Lincoln is already placed in the top 10 nationally for student satisfaction (National Student Survey 2016; Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2017). Ninety five per cent of Lincoln’s most recent graduates were in work or further study six months after finishing their course, with almost three quarters in graduate level roles (Destinations of Leavers of Higher Education Survey 2014/15).

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Who Cares For The Care Provider?

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It’s Carers Week!

Everyone is welcome to join us at our FREE event ‘Who Cares For The Care Provider?’ at the University of Lincoln in the Co-op Lecture Theatre on 16th June 2017, 9am-12pm.

Led by R. Scott Boots (The Founder and Director of the Health Care Exchange Initiative in Chicago) supported by Pauline Mountain M.B.E and Professor Mo Ray, (Chair of the University of Lincoln, Healthy Ageing Research Group), the seminar will focus on the dynamics of providing care, reducing stress and burnout as well as setting healthy goals for the future. The seminar has something to offer everyone working as or with caregivers.

This event can be used to network with lay and professional caregivers, enhance your professional portfolio and fulfil continuing professional development requirements.

For further information or to book a place, please contact Steve Corbett – email: Telephone: 01522886188.

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Criminology Graduate Case Study



In June 2015, I graduated from the University of Lincoln with the degree of Bachelor of Arts in Criminology with First Class Honours. Some of the modules I studied included Psychology and Crime, Criminal Justice and Criminology in the Professions. These modules in particular stood out for me and helped me to realise that I wanted to pursue a career in either the Prison Service or the Probation Service. Alongside my studies, I decided that I wanted to engage in volunteering opportunities and work experience which would help put some of the theory I was learning into practice. I applied to be a Youth Offender Mentor with Lincolnshire Action Trust and was successful in my application. Lincolnshire Action Trust provided me with full training and paired me with a young offender who required guidance and support from a mentor. The role required me to act as a pro-social model for the young person and communicate with other agencies such as Youth Offending Teams. I also took part in the Employer Mentoring Scheme which was offered by the University which was an invaluable experience. I was mentored by a senior manager of Lincolnshire Probation trust and shadowed many key aspects of their work. This allowed me to gain work experience in the Prison Service, the Crown Court and with Probation officers. Around 4 months prior to finishing my degree I decided to start searching and applying to jobs that took my interest. It was a very stressful time to start applying for jobs as I was in the middle of my dissertation but I felt it could give me an advantage by applying early. I applied for three jobs, all quite different; admin role in the courts, a Restorative Justice Facilitator and Offender Supervisor. I was offered an interview for two out of the three jobs I applied for and in April 2015 I was fortunate enough to be offered the job of Offender Supervisor for the Prison Service. I started this role in July 2015 and almost two years later I am still thoroughly enjoying my work!

Employment Experience

As an Offender Supervisor working for the Prison Service, my key role is to support, coach and motivate offenders through their sentence. On average I work with a caseload of between 60 and 70 offenders who are a mixture of high risk, low risk and life sentenced prisoners. I am required to make regular assessments on offenders in regards to factors such as their level of risk to themselves and others, their criminogenic needs and their physical and mental wellbeing. I work closely with the Probation Service and help devise sentence plan targets for offenders to address their needs and risks. Examples of this could be, completing an offending behaviour programme or addressing drug and alcohol problems. I am responsible to making referrals to other departments such as psychology, mental health and substance misuse and liaise closely with them on a daily basis. I am also required to write reports for re-catergorisation of offenders and for the parole process. I represent offenders at oral hearings and make recommendations for potential release.

Lincoln Award

The Lincoln Award helped me to develop key skills such as CV writing, interview techniques and how to complete application forms. The Lincoln Award also offered me the opportunity to complete a Mental Health First Aid course which I could add to my CV and talk about in my interviews. To pass the award I was required to complete a mock interview which gave me excellent practice for upcoming real interviews and provided me with constructive feedback and advice going forward.

Best Career Advice

My best advice would be to try and gain some volunteering or work experience whilst at University. Although it can be difficult finding something that’s right for you and doesn’t affect your studies the benefits it offers can make a huge difference! I really noticed in my interviews that although my degree was important the key factor was what practical experience I had and what real life situations I had dealt with. Be confident when you are applying for jobs and in your interviews. Do you research so you are fully prepared for any questions they may ask you, show enthusiasm and don’t be afraid to apply for things which may be out your comfort zone!

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Trump and the Paris Agreement: Withdrawal from the World but not from the Planet


Professor of International Law and Co-Director of Lincoln Centre for Environmental Law & Justice, Duncan French on the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement

“The decision by President Trump to withdraw the United States from the Paris Agreement on Climate Change has rightly been criticised by other world leaders and civil society groups. Within the United States, it marks a further step by the new US Administration in relegating environmental considerations from the government’s priorities. Globally, this is the most pronounced movement by the Trump Presidency in giving effect to the populism of his election campaign. Its timing around World Environment Day on 5 June seems particularly regrettable and ironic. The United States now joins Nicaragua and Syria as the only countries outside of the Agreement.

The Paris Agreement was adopted in December 2015 as a multilateral environmental agreement to move the international community forward together to both tackle climate change and to begin to prepare and to finance the resilience and adaptation necessary in response to its more extreme consequences. It is far from a perfect agreement, and most view it as only the next step in what has to be a much more ambitious programme of reform and change. But it is an important step.

The issue of climate change has been on the international agenda for thirty years. In that time, the international community has adopted two important treaties – the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 1997 Kyoto Protocol – and the world has become increasingly aware, both through the hardening of the scientific evidence but also with our own eyes, of the reality of climate change. The international community, never completely in consensus on this issue, has nevertheless slowly and sometimes painstakingly edged forward in its commitments. Most notably, India and especially China have now adopted ambitious climate plans.

The United States has always had an awkward history with international climate change law, notwithstanding its historical role as the largest polluter of greenhouse gases. It was not a party to the Kyoto Protocol, concerned then that it only imposed obligations on developed countries and not the more industrialised developing countries. It was this, amongst so many reasons, which made the Paris Agreement so significant; all countries, regardless of level of development, were willing to commit to bring down their greenhouse gas emissions. The obstacle to US participation in the Kyoto process – that of perceived developing country competitive advantage – was thus removed.

Moreover, unlike the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement works on the basis of “pledge and review” rather than through the establishment of legally binding emission reduction obligations. Each country is to submit a nationally determined contribution (NDC), which it will try to attain (or ‘intends to achieve’ in the words of the Agreement) towards keeping global temperature down ‘to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels’. These NDCs are to be reviewed periodically to ensure they are set at the necessary ambition to achieve the Paris Agreement’s climate objectives.

Thus, the US secured its twin objectives in the Paris negotiations; ensuring that China and India made an effective contribution and that climate commitments were “bottom-up” goals set by the countries themselves and not “top-down” prescriptive rules.

Of particular concern was the announcement by President Trump that the US would cease all Paris Agreement implementation actions with immediate effect, including supporting the Green Climate Fund, which provides finance to developing countries to meet their own obligations under the Paris Agreement. Lawyers will argue whether the US has acted unlawfully by violating the Agreement in advance of withdrawal, but the ecological and developmental impact of this non-implementation decision will be quickly felt, and not just (or primarily) in the United States.

So are there any grounds for optimism despite the Trump decision to withdraw? First, formally, withdrawal cannot take effect until 4 November 2020 at the earliest, as the Paris Agreement includes its own rules of departure (12 months following notification, but then only after three years of a country being a member). It is ironic that 4 November 2020 is the day after the next US election. Secondly, while what the US Government chooses to commit to (or not) is important it isn’t the totality of what can be achieved. China, the EU and others are seeing the political and moral, as well as the economic, opportunities in tackling climate change.

And beyond the State level, much can be done. Consumer choice, local government action and the private sector all have a hugely instrumental role to play in responding to climate change. And in the US, states such as California are taking a leadership role in tackling the issue. Moreover, while the global market is not invariably environmentally-friendly, as the costs of climate change become ever more apparent, so the market itself will steer towards green solutions so as to achieve co-called “climate neutrality”. Finally, the courts themselves are beginning to take climate change seriously. Decisions as far afield as The Netherlands, South Africa, Austria and the United States are considering, and increasingly accepting, climate arguments. Nevertheless, President Trump’s decision is a retrograde one.

Thus, is the US withdrawal from the Paris Agreement to be regretted? Absolutely. But less because of how far a treaty can coerce States to do things they don’t want to do, and more because participation is symbolic of broader political engagement. And it is the politics that will determine our planet’s – and our own – future. If we fail to keep within the temperature limits indicated by the Paris Agreement, “Make America Great Again” will resound hollow when we transgress one of the key planetary boundaries. The United States can withdraw from the world, but not from the planet.”

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Lincoln Psychology Explores How Tourists Can Misread Signs of Aggression in Wild Monkeys

01 Aggressive or threatening -  raised eyebrows, staring, and opening the mouth to show the teeth, or having the lips protrude to form a round mouth Credit Laetita Marechal

Wildlife tourists frequently fail to identify aggressive and distressed emotional states in wild monkeys – mistaking animals’ warnings of aggression for ‘smiles’ and ‘kisses’. This can lead to welfare problems for primates and risk of injury for people, according to new research published today.

A new study by a team of behavioural ecologists and psychologists examined whether educational tools intended to help tourists recognise different facial expressions in monkeys – such as 2D images and information signs like those found in zoos or animal parks – were effective in reducing harm to humans and distress to primates in destinations where wild macaques freely interact with humans.

The researchers found that tourists made significant mistakes in interpreting macaques’ emotions – such as believing a monkey was ‘smiling’ or ‘blowing them kisses’ when they were in fact displaying aggression – despite exposure to pictures designed to demonstrate what the animals’ facial expressions mean.

This level of misunderstanding could lead to increased risk of injury to humans and have a negative impact on the welfare on the animals, particularly in places where wild macaques interact with people, the study concluded.

The research, led by researchers from the University of Lincoln, UK, suggests videos or supervised visits led by expert guides would be better placed to educate tourists about how best to read emotions in animals in zoos and wildlife parks, along with advice on maintaining safe distance from the animals.

Dr Laëtitia Maréchal, from the School of Psychology at the University of Lincoln said: “There is a growing interest in wildlife tourism, and in particular primate tourism. People travel to encounter wild animals, many of them attempting to closely interact with monkeys, even though this is often prohibited.

“However, serious concerns have been raised related to the safety of the tourists interacting with wild animals. Indeed, recent reports estimate that monkey bites are the second cause of injury by animals after dogs in South East Asia, and bites are one of the main vectors of disease transmission between humans and animals.

“Our findings indicate that people who are inexperienced in macaque behaviour have difficulties in recognising monkey’s emotions, which can lead to dangerous situations where they think the monkeys are happy but instead they are threatening them.

“Education, guided visits, and keeping a safe distance with animals could be implemented as measures to reduce such issues, improving both animal welfare and tourist experience. Video might be a particularly effective tool to help people recognise animal emotion based on their facial expressions, behaviour or vocalisations, reducing any misunderstanding.”

Researchers quizzed three groups of participants – those with little to no experience of Barbary macaques, those with exposure to 2D images of different monkey faces, and those who had worked with primates for at least two months – on what emotions were being portrayed in a series of images showing aggressive, distressed, friendly and neutral faces.

Macaques present aggressive or threatening stances through raised eyebrows, staring, and opening the mouth to show the teeth, or having the lips protrude to form a round mouth. When the mouth is widely open and the animal is yawning, or the corners of the lips are fully retracted revealing the upper and lower teeth, it signals that they are distressed or submissive.

Macaques will have their mouths half open and the lips slightly protruding with a chewing movement and clicking or smacking of the tongue and lips to indicate they are friendly; and neutral faces feature a closed mouth and relaxed face.

They found that all participants, regardless of their levels of experience, made some mistakes confusing aggressive faces with non-threating faces such as neutral or friendly faces. Experts made just under seven per cent of mistakes, participants who were exposed to 2D images of monkey faces made just over 20 per cent of mistakes, and participants who had never or rarely encountered live monkeys made nearly 40 per cent of mistakes.

Dr Maréchal added: “When on site in Morocco, I often heard tourists in saying that the monkey seemed to blow them a kiss when they actually displayed a threatening face.

“The tourists often responded by imitating the monkey’s facial expression, which generally ended by either aggression by the monkey towards the tourists or the monkey leaving the interaction.

“If we can educate people, and prevent monkey bites, we can not only reduce the risk of disease infection, we can improve on the tourism experience. These findings are highly relevant to the general public and any professional in wildlife tourism, where wild animals can interact with the general public.”

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