Postgraduate: Critical studies; osteoporosis research

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The Independent Online

Can cultural studies keep up with the lightning speed of change in our digital age? Professor Sue Golding at the University of Greenwich is working on it.

Can cultural studies keep up with the lightning speed of change in our digital age? Professor Sue Golding at the University of Greenwich is working on it. She's directing a new MA in critical studies, new media and the practising arts at Greenwich, which will draw together a multitude of disciplines to address the nature and meaning of contemporary arts and media.

The form, as well as the content, of this new course is innovative. Its dissertation element may be practise-based or a traditional written thesis, and instead of one supervisor, each student will get a team made up of a primary supervisor and two "mentors" from other departments in the university or external universities or arts schools linked with the programme. These include institutions in Japan and Africa, to which students may travel to take an element of their degree. Professor Golding points out that the course also offers a solid grounding in critical studies. "It's a research degree with taught aspects, including a foundation course in critical studies covering all of the modern philosophies, from the Frankfurt School (including Adorno; Benjamin) to discursive analysis (from Nietzsche to Foucault and Lyotard)."

* Camilla Parker Bowles has been supporting new research into osteoporosis that will involve postgraduate students. During a visit to Manchester last Friday, the Prince of Wales' partner, who is the president of the National Osteoporosis Society, cut the ribbon on a new mobile bone-density scanning unit for diagnosis of and research into the bone-wasting condition. Judith Adams, the professor of radiology at Manchester University, explained to Mrs Parker Bowles how the state-of-the-art unit would benefit both local people and international research. It will make life easier for patients in Manchester because the scanning service will come to them, says Professor Adams. And research will be enhanced because academics will be able to go into residential areas with the equipment and thereby access a greater number and range of subjects to study.

Mrs Parker Bowles - whose mother died of osteoporosis - was interested to hear about some of the research projects under way in Manchester. These include a study of how bone development is affected by pregnancy in teenage girls. "We have about 400 teenage pregnancies a year in Manchester," says Professor Adams. "Bones continue to develop up to the age of about 20 to 22 in girls and 24 in boys, so these teenage girls haven't reached their peak bone mass. We want to understand how the girls' bone development is impacted in terms of size and mineral content by their unborn babies' needs."

Postgraduate students at Manchester are involved in this and other osteoporosis studies. They have been gathering statistics for a study of how bones develop in normal children (including how exercise and calcium supplements can influence skeletal development), and they will be taking the unit into schools to recruit children.

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