CASS goes to Weihai!


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Between the 28th July and the 2nd August, Carmen Dayrell and I represented CASS at the 3rd Sino-UK Summer School of Corpus Linguistics. The summer school was organised by Beijing Foreign Studies University and was hosted at the Weihai campus of the University of Shandong, China. A research symposium followed the summer school on the 3rd August where we presented our research to representatives from both universities. The research symposium gave us a taste of how corpus linguistics is used in a different culture and we heard papers on a range of different topics, such as Alzheimer’s research, work on translations, Chinese medicine, and analyses of media discourse.

Our summer school sessions introduced students to corpus linguistics and gave them an overview of the discipline’s development within a UK context. We also discussed the range of projects ongoing at CASS and foregrounded the interdisciplinary focus of the Centre’s work. After the formal lectures, we ran hands-on sessions demonstrating how to use Graphcoll and CQPweb and conducted seminars using material from the Climate Change and Discourses of Distressed Communities projects to test the students’ frequency, keywords, and concordance analysis skills. The students really engaged with the sessions and were particularly taken with Graphcoll. They enjoyed doing the practical sessions, which they said were different to how they usually learned. Everyone in the classroom worked really hard and asked great questions that showed how interested they were in Lancaster’s tools.

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Weihai is an absolutely beautiful place. The university sits with a sandy beach on one side and a mountain on the other. Because of this, Weihai campus is considered to have good Fung Shui. The place itself was described as a small city by those who live here, but ‘small’ is relative when compared to cities the size of Lancaster. Carmen and I enjoyed our time in China (despite a long journey involving flight cancellations and a trip to a Beijing hotel in the middle of the night) and loved seeing how well the students took to corpus linguistics and the materials that we prepared for them. The trip was a great success and we look forward to future collaborations between Lancaster and Beijing Foreign Studies University.

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CASS Changing Climates project presented at the University of Turin

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It was a great honour and pleasure to present CASS Changing Climates project to an engaging audience at the University of Turin last month, on 27th April 2016. This was the 8th symposium on ‘Energy and Power: Social ontology perspectives and energy transitions’ as part of a UNESCO Chair programme in Sustainable Development and Territory Management currently hosted by University of Turin (Italy), under the coordination of Professor Dario Padovan.

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The symposium brought together academics and students from various disciplines – sociology, linguistics, history and environmental sciences –, thus having an enthusiastic audience and resulting in a lively debate. CASS would like to thank the organisers Professor Dario Padovan, Dr Maria Cristina Caimotto and Gabriela Gabriela Cavaglià for this great opportunity to exchange experience and ideas. I very much enjoyed the event and, as expected, had a great time in lovely Torino.

Changing Climates and the Media

The ESRC Centre for Corpus Approaches to Social Science (CASS) and the Department of Sociology are pleased to announce a one-day symposium on Changing Climates and the Media taking place at Lancaster University on 21st Sep 2015.

This is the end-of-grant event of the CASS project on Changing Climates. The symposium will bring together leading academics from various disciplines, community experts and the Environment Agency in a unique event to discuss recent research on climate change and the media from a wide range of perspectives. Presentations will cover various countries, including Brazil, UK, Germany and Italy. Click here to see details of the programme.

We are all looking forward very much to this event.

Changing Climates: Crossing Boundaries

Last Friday (28th), CASS had the pleasure to host a cordial meeting in which researchers from CASS and the University of Bergen got together to discuss about their ongoing research on discourses surrounding climate change.

The Norwegian team runs the NTAP project (Networks of Texts and People) which aims to explore the flow of information across online social networks with a view to understanding how knowledge develops and how opinion is shaped. Among other topics, the project examines the dynamics of discussions in the blogosphere around the various issues related to climate change.

Dag Elgesem and Andrew Salway – the principal investigator and scientific co-ordinator of the NTAP project respectively – provided an overview of the main goals of the project, state of affairs, expectations and their next steps. The Technical consultant and programmer for the project, Knut Hofland, talked about the data and the process of collecting it, describing various issues and decisions made along this process. Lubos Steskal, the project’s post-doctoral fellow, presented an interesting graphical representation of bloggers’ interactions which offers the researcher a clear indication about how communities are formed as well as whether and how they interact with each other. Samia Touileb presented a sample of her ongoing PhD project which uses grammar induction techniques to capture typical expressions used in blogs that discuss climate change.

Tony McEnery and Carmen Dayrell represented the CASS centre. Tony McEnery first provided a general broad view of the centre’s activities and staff by briefly mentioning its various projects. He also talked about some techniques commonly used in corpus-based discourse analysis to extract and manipulate the data. As expected, more attention was paid to the Changing Climates project. Having the climate change sociologist John Urry as its principal investigator, the project aims to contrast how climate change is discussed in news printed media in Britain and Brazil. Carmen Dayrell presented the current stage of the project. Her talk revolved around the composition of the corpora used in this study and a preliminary analysis of the data.

This was an excellent opportunity for these researchers to exchange ideas and experiences, expand horizons and learn about other approaches, perspectives, and views. We hope this first meeting will encourage and foster fruitful enhanced collaboration between these research teams.