Great Future

94.5% of our undergraduate students go on to work and/or further study within six months of graduating

(Destinations of Leavers Survey 2014/15)

Global manufacturer turns a profit without harming environment

Interface Mission Zero

Fri, 21 Apr 2017 09:33:00 BST

The Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Communities welcomed Purchasing Director Barry Townsend of global carpet tile manufacturers Interface to explain how

Barry Townsend HOW can a business turn a profit and be completely carbon neutral?  This was the topic covered by one of the directors of the world’s largest and most sustainable carpet-tile manufacturer when he spoke at the University of Huddersfield.

Barry Townsend is the Purchasing Director for Europe, the Middle East and Africa for Interface.  Based at their UK office in Shelf, near Halifax, he was invited by the University’s Centre for Sustainable and Resilient Communities to talk about Mission Zero, Interface’s promise to eliminate any negative impact the company may have on the environment by the year 2020.  The talk was part of a series of lectures organised by the Centre which is based in the University of Huddersfield Business School.

‌Mission Zero arose after the company’s founder, Ray Anderson, was asked to produce a speech for a seminar on how his company was helping the environment and he realised the company had nothing novel to say other than they comply with the law.

Interface Europe “Ray Anderson was a visionary of his time,” said Mr Townsend and described how the Interface founder had had an epiphany moment after reading the book The Ecology of Commerce by Paul Hawken.

“He brought the whole team together and told them ‘we’re going to change the way we run the business’.  Despite several of the senior executive having doubts, Mission Zero was born,” said Mr Townsend.

‌He spoke about the company’s ‘Journey to Zero’ and how, by using technology inspired by NASA, Interface has been able to dramatically reduce direct waste by installing a bespoke ultrasonic cutting machine.

“As a result, the amount of waste material produced when cutting our tiles was reduced by 80%,” said Mr Townsend.  “Annually, this equates to eliminating 310 tonnes of wasted material from the production of our carpet tiles alone,” he said.

By reducing the amount of waste their factories now send no waste to landfill because anything that is leftover is recycled.

Interface, a multi-million pound profit making company, has also been able to dramatically cut its energy usage by creating a new pre-coat process which consumes 45% less gas per square metre than the older method and most of the gas they do use is biogas made from fish waste in The Netherlands.  

The company also adopts an innovative approach to its use of yarn by recycling discarded fishing nets and making them into carpets, generating socio-economic benefits for the local coastal communities as well as environmental ones.

Ray Anderson died in 2011, but his dream of achieving Mission Zero is now well within reach.  Interface now aims to take the process a stage further in becoming a restorative business, which means putting back more than is taken from the environment and from the community.

Read more news

Modern slavery forum questions the effectiveness of the NRM


Wed, 12 Apr 2017 13:10:00 BST

“…the panel agreed that the National Referral Mechanism was not fit for purpose due to nationwide inconsistencies in the way victims are reported…”

‌THE UK’s National Referral Mechanism is a framework to identify victims of human trafficking and modern slavery to ensure they get the appropriate support.  However, it is failing across the country according to a panel of experts at the University of Huddersfield’s 2017 Social Justice Lecture

Mark Burns-Williamson The topic for this year’s lecture, organised by the Law School, centred around modern slavery and human trafficking, which has been subject to new legislation since the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015, plus concerted action by police and other agencies.

The event’s keynote speaker was Mark Burns-Williamson (pictured right), West Yorkshire’s Police Crime and Commissioner.  He outlined the establishment of the National Anti-Trafficking and Modern Slavery Network, which he created in February 2016, and the growing importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to investigation and enforcement. 

Mr Burns-Williamson was welcomed by the University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Thornton, who also introduced the panel of experts to the large audience.  They were Yvonne Hall, Founder and Managing Director of the charity Palm Cove Society, the University’s Dr John Lever, human rights barrister Lucy Mair of Garden Court North Chambers and West Yorkshire Police’s DCI Warren Stevenson, who led a unit specialising in modern slavery investigations.

Lucy Mair and John LeverPanellists barrister Lucy Mair and the University's Dr John Lever

The debate began with the panel agreeing that the National Referral Mechanism (NRM) was not fit for purpose due to nationwide inconsistencies in the way victims are reported.

DCI Stevenson noted various failings, one being that the trafficking unit he co-ordinated can offer support to a victim within hours whereas an NRM first responder can take up to five days.

Lucy Mair, who has worked in the field of human rights for over a decade, condemned the current system because it can often lead to the further criminalisation of victims. 

“Although the West Yorkshire Police are known as being real leaders in their ability to identify victims of modern slavery, this isn’t the case with many other police forces,” she said.

“When police officers raid a cannabis farm, they don’t necessarily see the young and malnourished Vietnamese teenagers as being potential victims of modern slavery.  Instead, they see them as illegal over-stayers.  Time and time again victims aren’t being recognised as victims and often criminal charges are brought against them.”

‌She added that not having correct regulated immigrant status is a criminal offence.  “But if you’re an immigrant, you won’t have this if your trafficker procured a visa through deception.”

Yvonne Hall and Warren Stevenson ► Palm Cove Society MD Yvonne Hall and West Yorkshire Police's DCI Warren Stevenson

‌Concerns were also raised about a growing trend amongst the public for demonising irregular migrants rather than suspecting modern slavery and contacting the police.  Dr John Lever said he would even go as far to say that modern slavery was becoming normalised.  “We have to ask ourselves what kind of society do we want to live in?”

The topic of education was approached and the question of ‘what age should we teach our children about human trafficking and modern slavery?’ was asked.

DCI Stevenson offered that the arts could play an important part in teaching the today’s children about serious issues, such as human trafficking and added he would welcome any support from people in the arts who would like to develop an educational programme.

Ms Hall ended the debate by asking the audience to look out for key indicators of modern slavery, as many successful outcomes in catching perpetrators, arises from public tip-offs by people either at home or in a work capacity.

“Is there someone on their shoulder watching their every move, their every activity?” she said.  “Are they appropriately dressed, do they interact with you?  Do they have access to their own bank accounts and identification documents?”

Read more news

New app offers ancient sights and sounds of sites like Stonehenge


Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:22:00 BST

Unlike other computer game-like walkarounds, the Huddersfield app enables the user to hear what an ancient site used to sound like by integrating acoustic modelling

Dr Rupert Till A NEWLY-launched app from a researcher and a team of technicians at the University of Huddersfield, will turn smartphones, tablets and computers into time travel devices, enabling users to see and to hear ancient and mysterious sites such as Stonehenge as they were in the distant past, before they fell into ruin.

Named the EMAP Soundgate, it is now available as a free download for PC and Mac, with a Mac only version at Apple’s App Store.

The University’s Reader in Music, Dr Rupert Till (pictured), has a global reputation for “sound archaeology”, including investigations into the acoustics of ancient spaces, and for recreating the music and instruments of early civilisations.  Now, his research into the sound properties of sites that include Stonehenge and prehistoric cave dwellings in Europe has led to a free app named the EMAP Soundgate that can be downloaded for PC, Mac, Android and iOS operating systems.

The sonic dimension of the new app is the most significant innovation, said Dr Till.

“There are a number of computer game-like walkarounds for different historic sites, but what is new with our app is the ability not only to seewhat a site like Stonehenge used to look like, but also to be able to hear what it used to sound like, by integrating acoustic modelling. Also, the use of recordings of relevant ancient musical instruments is very new.”

In addition to Stonehenge, where Dr Till has conducted extensive research on the original acoustics, the first release of the app enables users to make visual and sonic virtual tours of two other World Heritage sites – Palaeolithic Age decorated caves near Altamira in Northern Spain, and the ancient Roman theatre at Paphos in Cyprus.  New sites could be added to future releases, and there are also plans to adapt it for virtual reality headsets.

Full physical access to the sites included on the first version of Dr Till’s app can be restricted.  It is rare to be allowed to enter the centre of Stonehenge, for example.  Therefore the app, installed on a portable device, can enrich an actual visit.

“What you see today at Stonehenge is  a remnant of what used to be there, so it will be very interesting for visitors to have this app showing what it used to look like at different periods, from  the beginning of its development through to its completion about 4,000 years ago,”  said Dr Till.

App users will also have the choice of visualising the site at in daylight, dusk or after dark, with appropriate natural sounds.

CDs Ancient musical instruments will also form part of the app’s sound bank.  Dr Till’s recent activities have included the production of recordings for the European Musical Archaeology Project.  They have included an acclaimed disc of Viking age music and the sounds made by ancient bone flutes.

The app has been conceived, developed and produced in-house at the University of Huddersfield, with the expertise of its Computer Games department being crucial to the digital modelling, based on the acoustic data provided by Dr Till.

The app is the culmination of some six years’ research by Dr Till, who has been in receipt of major funding from EU sources and from the UK’s Arts & Humanities and Engineering & Physical Science research councils.

Download the free EMAP Soundgate app at:

Read more news

Luddite Memorial Lecture by Dr Katrina Navickas


Tue, 11 Apr 2017 09:48:00 BST

With a government clampdown on public assemblies in the early 1800s, protests movements in towns like Huddersfield would organise large gatherings outside borough boundaries

peterloo massacre ► An illustration of the infamous Peterloo Massacre in Manchester

AGITATORS for democratic reform and workers’ rights in the early 1800s were confronted by legislation from a government fearful that ideas from the French Revolution might take root across the Channel.  The new laws resulted in a clampdown on free speech and meant that it was difficult for protest movements to find places and spaces in which they could gather without risk of arrest and a charge of sedition.  How they got round the problem was the subject of the 2017 Luddite Memorial Lecture at the University of Huddersfield.

It was delivered by Dr Katrina Navickas, a historian who makes use of digital mapping for her research into 19th century protest movements and where they met.  She was the fourth lecturer in an annual series that is organised by the University in tandem with Huddersfield Local History Society

Dr Navickas, whose lecture focused on the West Riding, stated that the new movements for democracy from the 1790s fought for the right to meet as well as the right to speak.  Among the laws designed to curtail these rights was a ban on unlicensed meetings of 50 or more people.  The legislation was designed to prevent “seditious assemblies”.

‌‌Local elites, such as magistrates and manufacturers, were the most zealous enforcers of the rules and often proved to be more reactionary than the Government, according to Dr Navickas.  She described and displayed maps of some of the West Riding locations that became centres of protest, from town centre market squares to fields and moorlands that were often outside borough boundaries. 

Professor Tim Thornton, Dr Katrina Navickas and Cyril Pearce ‌◄ Pictured with speaker Dr Katrina Navickas are the University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Professor Tim Thornton, and the Chair of the Huddersfield Local History Society, Cyril Pearce

These became the sites for large gatherings that were important and colourful all-day excursions for families, who would often walk large distances to hear radical speakers at places such as Crosland Moor near Huddersfield and Peep Green in Hartshead.

Opportunities to hold town centre gatherings depended on factors such as land ownership, Huddersfield was problematic because it was dominated by the Ramsden family, who owned all the key sites, but protest movements found room for manoeuvre and adopted what Dr Navickas described as “spaces of making do”.

book They used pubs and warehouses and one tactic was to avoid the need for a licence by meeting in Dissenting chapels, under the pretence of holding a religious meeting.  Some sects – especially the Primitive Methodists of the West Riding – were sympathetic to the social aims of radicals.  In time, said Dr Navickas, social protest movements had the funds to build their own clubs and premises that included working men’s clubs and Chartist Halls. 

‌In British history, space and place have often played a background role, with historians focusing on speech, said Dr Navickas.

“But now historians agree on the importance of space, in particular the politics of the street,” she said.  Her website includes the digital maps she is developing, including the locations of political meetings in Northern England between 1775 and 1848.

The 2017 Luddite Memorial Lecture was introduced by the historian Professor Tim Thornton, the University of Huddersfield’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor.

“In 2012, when we and the Huddersfield Local History held a symposium to mark the bicentenary of the Luddite Rising, Dr Navickas gave the keynote address,” said Professor Thornton.  “She therefore helped to lay the foundations for an enduring legacy in this lecture series.  So it is highly appropriate that she should have come to speak to us again.”

Read more news