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multidisciplinary research

MDR Week- Blog no 2: Ethical Fashion Futures – An Oxymoron?

March 12, 2013
by Eleanor Tighe

Join Emma Waight and Eleanor Tighe for the lively debate on Tomorrow’s shopping: sustainable consumption in retail & ethical fashion’ on Thursday 21st March. An insight into this exciting and multidisciplinary research field can be found below.


Ethical Fashion Futures – An Oxymoron?

By Emma Waight and Eleanor Tighe



On Thursday 21 March, post-graduate researchers Emma Waight and Eleanor Tighe will be presenting the outcomes of their recent event ‘Ethical Fashion Futures: Changing Habits in Retail’. This small event bought together students, academics and industry professionals to discuss prevailing social and environmental issues involved in clothing manufacture.

The day kicked off with a talk from Charlie Ross, of the Offset Warehouse who got us to think about clothing supply chains at their origins. She raised the controversial issue of cotton production, drawing attention to the huge stress mass cotton production places on public goods, drawing on the example of the Aral Sea. We then flicked over to the end of the supply chain, and consumer practices with Emma Waight, making a case for ‘repair, re-use and re-sell’. Tania Phipps-Rufus a lecturer from Hertfordshire University then drew the morning to close, drawing attention to the legal debates surrounding what constitutes an ‘ethical fashion’.

The afternoon’s discussions were centred on high street fashion at site of production. Dr. Kanchana Ruwanpura, senior lecturer in Geography and Environment here at the University of Southampton highlighted the problems inherent in ‘Codes of Conduct’ corporate practices, drawing on the example of Sri Lanka and Pakistan. Dionne Harrison, Business and Capability Director of the ethical retail consultancy Impactt, UK, introduced the ‘Benefits for Business and Workers’ approach, which works in partnership with six UK retailers and the UK Department for International Development, to improve working conditions at sites of production through cuts to waste and enhanced dialogue and human resources management. Eleanor Tighe then presented some of her research findings on the clothing industry in Bangladesh, looking at the role of apparels production in national development strategy and the challenges faced by organisations attempting to improve relations in this field.

The day was then rounded off by a summary and discussion by Dr. Jeffrey Bray, senior lecturer in Marketing and Retail Management at Bournemouth University. Dr. Bray opened up the table to a great discussion on the foundation of an ethical fashion, and indeed how something which by definition relates to trends, can at the same time be sustainable?

The event was truly multidisciplinary in its approach with speakers from backgrounds in fashion, human geography, law and retail management. This in turn attracted a wide range of participants interested in international development, corporate social responsibility (CSR), business management, sustainable design and retailing. Fashion and clothing is a global industry which we are all engaged in as consumers, at the very least. Who is the average clothes shopper and what do they care about?

Multidisciplinary Week has given us a platform to disseminate outcomes from a day of lively discussion. Come along on Thursday to pick up these debates.




For the latest news and events about the Multidisciplinary Research Week 2013, visit our Multidisciplinary Research website:

or follow us on Twitter @MultiSoton #MDRWeek

MDR Week- Blog no 1- Keynote Lecture: The Acoustic Bubble by Professor Tim Leighton

March 11, 2013
by Timothy Leighton

Join Professor Tim Leighton for the keynote Lecture: The Acoustic Bubble on Wednesday 20th March to hear how acoustic sensors can also locate reserves of gas in the seabed. An insight into this exciting and multidisciplinary research field can be found below.


Insights into ‘The Acoustic Bubble’- having fun with curiosity…. and curiosity with fun.

By Professor Tim Leighton


I am interested in the way sound travels through liquids, and liquid-like materials, such as the atmospheres of Venus and the Gas Giant planets. I am particularly interested in gas bubbles underwater, because these are the most powerful acoustical entities that occur underwater. Gas bubbles injected underwater sound notes – the smaller the bubble, the higher the note (just as a large wineglass emits a deeper note than a small wineglass when tapped with a spoon). Listening to these notes allows the measurement of bubble size. But like any object that can produce sound, bubbles vibrate sympathetically when sound of the correct pitch is projected at them: they emit notes in response, and can even implode (just as a certain voice can ‘ring’ and shatter a wine glass). An imploding bubble can damage its surroundings. This needs to be controlled as sometimes damage is desirable (as in ultrasonic tumour treatment) and sometimes it is not (e.g. during ultrasonic foetal scanning).

I was asked to talk about how we use the sounds emitted by bubbles to locate gas leaks underwater. These can be either from naturally-occurring reserves of gas in the seabed, or be leaks of gas from undersea gas pipelines, or from carbon capture and storage facilities. However, as soon as I start talking about bubbles I wander off topic and I am bound to cover such questions as ‘what does a waterfall sound like in space?’ and ‘do dolphins think nonlinearly?’

Whenever sound in liquids is an issue, bubbles become an important and difficult consideration, so to work out the implications of the fundamental bubble physics I do, I must follow through to other disciplines. This means gaining expertise in other fields myself, and working with experts: with chemists in working out how to use sound with bubbles to make cold water clean as well as hot (so saving on electricity bills); with archaeologists to look at how sonar can be used to look at wrecks buried in muddy seabeds; with oceanographers with examine the possibilities of storing atmospheric carbon in disused oil reservoirs in the seabed; with medics to work out what is the safe level of ultrasound to give a pregnant woman… that sort of thing. Providing it is fun, and rigorous, I will get into that field.

Multidisciplinary Research Week could be seen as making contacts for new funding opportunities, and these are important, but I see it primarily as having fun with curiosityand curiosity with fun.




For the latest news and events about the Multidisciplinary Research Week 2013, visit our Multidisciplinary Research website:

or follow us on   Twitter @MultiSoton #MDRWeek