Taming the oil price

For the foreseeable future, the world will need oil, but its price volatility makes buying and selling it a challenge for producers and the myriad manufacturers who need it. For brokers who sit in the middle of such transactions, finding the optimal price and the number of clients to spread their risk is one of their biggest challenges. Belleh Fontem, a senior researcher in operations and information systems at the University of Massachusetts, USA, has designed a mathematical programme that embraces oil price volatility. The results could have far-reaching consequences.

One of the main benefits of a highly networked global economy is the sheer scale of access to products and services. On the flip side, being so interwoven, that network is at the mercy of impactful events anywhere within it. Witness the effects when the Ever Given, one of the world’s biggest container ships, blocked the

Understanding teaching excellence in STEM subjects

STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, maths – are undeniably important if we are to meet the needs of our increasingly globalised world. So knowing what encourages uptake of these subjects to the highest level is of the utmost importance. Good teaching might be an obvious answer, however we don’t fully understand what constitutes ‘teaching excellence’ in STEM subjects. Dr Alfred Thumser, at the University of Surrey, UK, decided to ask bioscience students what they thought. The results were illuminating.

One of the more significant developments in senior secondary and tertiary education over the last thirty years has been the increased importance of teaching STEM subjects – science, technology, engineering, and mathematics – to meet the growing impacts of technological developments in an increasingly globalised world. However, for various reasons, the pace of change in the education of these subjects has been such that pedagogic

Invoking human rights to stop ivory tower bullies

Higher education institutions are not immune to workplace bullying. In fact, research shows that they can be virulent breeding grounds for a particularly pernicious form of bullying – one cloaked in popular perceptions of civility. In higher education, bullying is even delegated to subordinates. However, because workplace bullying inhabits a grey legal area, prosecuting cases is challenging. Dr Leah P Hollis at Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ suggests we should re-examine the social position of bullying from the perspective of the foremost authority on such matters: the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

For those caught in the continual loop of a typical office job, the hallowed halls of higher education may seem a genteel place to work. A life dedicated to learning and instruction carries images of safe spaces of quiet reflection and respectful repartee with peers and students. The reality is different. Academia is highly