Knowledge Exchange Seminar Series (KESS)

28 February 2018: People and Surroundings – Impacts of Sound

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1.30pm – RaISe – Welcome and Opening Remarks

Prof Keith Attenborough (OU) – Acoustics for STEM and STEAM

1.45pm –  This presentation explains how acoustics can provide motivation for studies in STEM subjects and beyond. Studies of hearing difficulties, home listening systems and subjective response to noise, involve psychology and sociology. Medical applications include ultrasonic scanning and surgery with high intensity focussed ultrasound. But acoustics rarely features in school teaching or in university physics and engineering curricula. Sound can be used to exemplify aspects of waves in the GCSE physics syllabus and noise can be part of environmental studies. Acoustically-related research topics include outdoor sound prediction, soil science, early diagnosis of osteoporosis and musical instrument technology. These topics and other example applications offer ways of motivating acoustically-related teaching and learning in school and university STEM curricula. Simple classroom demonstrations range from shouting competitions to tin-can-loudspeakers. Few Music degree courses include acoustics. But musical acoustics and musical instrument technology bridge the arts-science divide. Many school leavers are attracted to Music Technology degree courses but find any acoustics content interesting and, after graduating, realise that there are more job opportunities in building acoustics and noise consultancy.  This presentation highlights “conversion” options for graduates, including MSc courses in Applied Acoustics and the Institute of Acoustics Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control,

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Mr Keith McAllister (QUB) – Autism and the Built Environment

2.05pm – As a society we have a responsibility to provide an inclusive built environment, one shared and enjoyed by all. For those with Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) however, the world can be a frightening, difficult and confusing place. The challenge of integrating more fully into society can be distanced by an alienating built environment. This is particularly debilitating for those with autism who can find themselves detached from others by uncomfortable surroundings. Research to date has illustrated that sensory sensitivity to sound and unwanted noise levels are especially problematic in this regard. The increased incidence of autism has now led to a growing interest in promoting autism-friendly environments. With regard to individual buildings, strategies to date have generally advocated lessening the potential challenges to those with autism and sensory sensitivity. Arguably however much more needs to be done if wanting a genuinely inclusive society where all citizens can freely avail of all opportunities available to them to further this aspiration, workshops are being conducted with both young adults and secondary school pupils with autism to get a better understanding of what is important to those with ASC in our Built Environment. This presentation presents findings from those workshops, which

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Dr Sarah Lappin (QUB) and Dr Gascia Ouzounian (Oxford University) – Recomposing the City: How Sound Can Make Better Cities

2.25pm –  This presentation draws on findings of a research project funded by a three year grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council. The project seeks to understand how sound can be understood in post-conflict cities. After several months in Berlin and Bonn researching how sound artists have impacted on the way these cities are considered by designers and policy makers, the project team conducted a series of workshops in Belfast in September 2016. Participants at these workshops hailed from a wide spectrum across Northern Ireland, including: Ards and North Down Borough Council, Belfast City Council and Mid Ulster District Council; Belfast Harbour Commissioners; Belfast Healthy Cities; Department of Agriculture Environment and Rural Affairs; Healthy Ageing Strategic Partnership; Belfast Health Development Unit, and; several private sector design companies. This presentation presents evidence that careful consideration of sound in planning cities can improve many issues including: health and well-being; economic vibrancy; sustainable development, and; inclusive, shared spaces.  It illustrates these possibilities through a series of projects from both the UK and around the world in which designers and sound artists worked together to improve cities in a variety of ways.

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2.45pm – Discussion  
3.15pm – RaISe – Closing Remarks 
3.20pm – Networking and Refreshments