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    In what ways can adult-child pedagogical interactions at home and preschool combine to shape the development of preschoolers’ verbal reasoning?

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    Problem: Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) policy, practice, and research all emphasise the importance of adult-child pedagogical interactions at home and in ECEC settings for children’s development. However, separate bodies of knowledge have emerged concerning these interactions at home and in ECEC settings. Ongoing development of inductive statistical methods offer a means of bridging these bodies of knowledge. These methods provide a practical and efficient means of understanding how interactions in both locations work together to shape development. Thus, the use of these methods has the potential to yield new ECEC insights, innovations, and practice.Research question: in what ways can adult-child pedagogical interactions in the home and preschool combine to shape the development of pre-schoolers’ verbal reasoning?Context: advancement of contemporary knowledge that informs ECEC policy and practice.Methods: secondary statistical analysis of a nationally representative dataset using a contemporary inductive statistical method: Mixture Regression Modelling.Data Sources/evidence: data from the Effective Provision of Preschool Education (EPPE) study: 2,857 children and families using 141 ECEC settings across England from ages 3 (entry to preschool) to 4 years (exit from preschool).Results: four distinct groups were identified when considering the contextualised associations between adult-child pedagogical interactions at home and preschool and the development of verbal reasoning from 3 to 4 years of age. Confirming previous EPPE research, adult-child pedagogical interactions in the home mattered for all – particularly how frequently a child was read to – and irrespective of a child’s verbal reasoning at 3 years or the development of this reasoning to age 4 years. Extending the previous EPPE findings, the four groups also differed from each other in how verbal reasoning developed from 3-4 years and how this development was related to adult-child pedagogical interactions in homes and preschools. Three - inductive - findings stood out:First, adult-child pedagogical interactions in ECEC settings were found to matter more when there were less frequent interactions in the home, and when interactions in preschool were higher in quality. This suggests possible preschool-origin boosts to equity in pre-schoolers’ development of verbal reasoning.Second, that adult-child pedagogical interactions in preschool concerning ‘Language reasoning’ and ‘Science and the environment’ may have a prominent role in this equity boost.Third, that family income was only weakly related to adult-child pedagogical interactions: Both richer and poorer families could experience more/less frequent pedagogical interactions in the home and higher/lower quality of pedagogical interactions in preschool. Thus the above equity effects matter for more children.Educational importance of this research for theory, practice, and policy: Findings from EPPE have shaped ECEC policy, practice, and research for two decades. Therefore new EPPE findings matter -- especially because the EPPE data may be more comparable to conditions in England now versus 6-7 years ago. The ongoing development of inductive statistical methods aids the identification of conditions under which ECEC can facilitate equity in child development.Connection to the conference theme: this paper illustrates how contemporary inductive statistical methods can help researchers: innovate in education, generate new insights/inquiries, and inform professional learning

    Introduction: the surrounding forest

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    Ligon's Hands; or, querying Frank's Sublime

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    Jason Frank’s The Democratic Sublime (2021) is a fascinating and compelling account of the aesthetic-political stakes of popular sovereignty and manifestation as it emerges in the age of democratic revolutions. Frank shows us how, in the age of democratic revolutions, the staging of the People was equally – indeed, more fundamentally – an aesthetic problem. It is a question always of appearance, manifestation and demonstration. The Sublime is central to Frank’s argument for precisely this reason. It becomes the aesthetic category par excellence to mark the experience of that which is excessive to all sensuous apprehension but is nonetheless rendered sensually. The democratic sublime, more directly, marks the aporetic moment constitutive of popular manifestation. Yet, as much as these Sublime aporias are developed in the direction of a productive tension in Frank’s account, they also mark a process or operation that – as decolonial critiques have shown – grounds a whole orchestration of bodies. The sublime is that category by which and in which such an elemental differentiation is at work. Sublime experience is that operation in which the boundaries of subject and object, body and flesh, sense and sentience – in a word a boundary of the proper – are first instituted. The very aporias in which Frank wants to locate the appearance of a radical excess, of the part of no part, are those in which that supplement is tamed and brought to its knees, dominated and captured. And it isn’t clear how far a democratic augment to the Sublime can move us away from this colonial-anthropologising operation. Which is to say, holding open that aporetic terrain between representation and impossibility, resisting identification, subjectivation and recognition appears to be already and constitutively a differentiation of the proper subject and its others.<br/

    On the ethicality of Islamic banks’ business model

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    This paper scrutinizes the ethicality of Islamic banks’ (IBs’) business model by employing the ‘objectives of Islamic law’ (Maqāsid al-Sharī’ah). This necessitates developing an ethical framework to construe two primary injunctions of Islamic finance, namely ribā and gharar. The former embodies financial decoupling (aggravating risk-shifting) and unjust price gouging (provoking economic stagnation and financial exclusion), while the latter involves asymmetric information and excessive risk-taking behaviour (exacerbating financial fragility and thus systemic risk). We empirically and theoretically illustrate that these unethical issues are still prevalent in the IBs’ modes of financing, despite the Sharī’ah-compliant endorsement of religious scholars (i.e. Sharī’ah supervisory boards). This affirms that ethicality is merely an impression management exercise of IBs instead of their true business identity. The way forward is to conceptualize IBs’ modes of financing beyond just Sharī’ah compliance by scrutinizing their ethical impact on society at large. This would require updating centuries-old Islamic rulings (Fatāwā) on financial transactions and consulting finance academics and practitioners.</p

    Impact of corporate governance mechanisms on environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance

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    This thesis contains three research papers on the impact of corporate governance mechanisms on Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) performance using international evidence of top multi-national entities (MNEs) along with an introductory and concluding chapter. The essays present interconnected studies on; (i) the impact of board composition on ESG performance; (ii) corporate governance drivers of environmental performance; and (iii) impact of board diversity on ESG performance in the millennium development goals (MDGs) and sustainable development goals (SDGs) eras. The first research paper investigates the association between board composition and ESG performance. We test the impact of five board composition elements on ESG performance, notably board independence, CEO duality, board gender diversity, interlocking directorship, and ESG committee, whilst controlling for other corporate governance variables, firm-level attributes, and country-level governance factors. Panel quantile regression (PQR) was applied to analyse data covering a 15-year period (2006–2020) from 336 top MNEs, operating in 42 non-financial industries, located in 32 countries and 5 geographical regions. Fixed effect regression (OLS), multiple discriminant analysis, two-stage least squares (2SLS), and propensity score matching (PSM) regression analysis were used to analyse data. Whereas results from linear models show that board independence, board gender diversity, and existence of ESG committee are positively associated with ESG performance, PQR reveals that the relationship is curvilinear. Linear models show that CEO duality has no significant impact on ESG performance, but PQR reveals that sustained CEO duality erodes ESG performance. Furthermore, whilst linear models show that interlocking directorship has negative impact on ESG performance, PQR reveals that the presence of interlocking directors with vast cross-directorship experience enhances ESG performance. The second research paper examines the extent to which corporate governance (CG) mechanisms affect corporate environmental performance (CEP). The study tested the impact of seven key CG mechanisms on CEP, broadly categorised into board structure and operations (board meeting, board independence and CEO duality), board diversity (board gender diversity and board nationality diversity), and ESG structure (ESG committee and ESG-linked compensation). Panel quantile regression (PQR) was applied to analyse data covering a 15-year period (2006-2020) from 244 top multinational entities operating in 30 environmentally sensitive industries located in 31 countries distributed across 5 geographical regions. Binary logistic regression, two-stage least squares regression (2SLS)/ instrumental variables (IV) regression and propensity score matching (PSM) regression analysis were applied to assess the robustness of result. Result shows that at the aggregate/ combined level for all countries, board gender diversity and presence of ESG committee are the strongest drivers of CEP. However, when disaggregated into geographical regions, the impact of CG mechanisms on CEP is contextual and varies across jurisdictions. Following from the positive impact of board gender diversity and board nationality diversity on CEP, to strengthen board effectiveness and environmental sustainability performance, board nomination committees should select or recommend for selection director nominees that strengthen gender diversity and nationality diversity. The third research paper investigates the impact of board diversity (namely board nationality diversity, board gender diversity, and board skills diversity) on ESG performance using a sample of Forbes 500 top multinational entities (MNEs), spanning 45 industries, 36 countries and 5 geographical regions, covering a 15-year period (2006-2020) of the millennium development goals (MDGs) era and sustainable development goals (SDGs) eras. Fixed effect linear regression, two-stage least squares (2SLS)/ instrumental variable (IV) regression, and propensity score matching regression were used to analyse data. Results show that at the aggregate level, board nationality diversity, board gender diversity, and board skills diversity are positively associated with ESG performance, with board nationality diversity emerging as the foremost determinant. When disaggregated into industries, the impact of board nationality diversity and board skills diversity on ESG performance is greater in the non-financial industry, whereas the impact of board gender diversity is more in the financial industry. When assessed from the standpoint of the MDGs/SDGs era, board nationality diversity and board skills diversity have greater impact on ESG performance in the MDGs era (2006-2015), whilst the impact of board gender diversity is more in the SDGs era (2016-2020). Overall, the study concludes that board diversity is an effective strategy for improving ESG performance

    On-chip control of light emission by single-photon sources

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    Single photons are a useful tool that facilitates the exploitation of quantum effects that prove useful for overcoming the constraints of classical physics, whether this is improving the precision for metrology, or solving the classically unsolvable problems using novel quantum information processing techniques. InAs/GaAs quantum dots (QDs) are one of the leading sources for the generation of single-photons in the solid-state, offering relatively easy fabrication of complex photonic structures, integration with electronics, and offering high quality single-photon emission. However, they are not without issue, for example, QDs while having theoretical GHz emission rates are impacted by the limited extraction efficiency imposed by high refractive index contrasts at the material free-space interface causing total internal reflection, which reduces the effectiveness in applications that requires guaranteed emission of single-photons, or high single-photon flux. In this thesis, we discuss various applications of hybrid photonic devices, and techniques which can be applied to fabricate devices that enable control of the emission of single photons generated by InAs/GaAs QDs. We present simulations and experimental results of several alternative nanophotonic devices that are based on a simple metallic nano-ring deposited on the surface, that focuses the emission for enhanced free-space collection. When combined with a metallic back-reflector below the substrate, made possible using a novel manual thermal release adhesive tape assisted membrane transfer technique, we show an average increase in single-photon emission brightness by about 7.5×, referenced to a device with only a back reflector, comparing emitters within and outside the nano-rings, with collected photon rates as high as 7 million photons per second, and enhancements over a 60nm bandwidth. The intrinsically broadband nature of the devices we present do not require bespoke optimisation and subsequent tuning to individual emitters, as is the case with most optical cavity based geometries currently used for bright and indistinguishable photons, which along with the ease of fabrication, and compatibility with any emitter and substrate, improves scalability and yield. Furthermore, the introduction of metal paves the way for their use as electrical contacts to apply localised electric fields for carrier injection or wavelength tuning. Additionally, we show how a considered approach to the design of the epitaxial layers of the QD membranes could be used to further optimise the coupling to free-space, or result in a reduction of the radiative lifetime of emitters, potentially leading to improved coherence, with simulated results giving over 285× enhancement compared to unprocessed material. Finally, we further show advantage of our planar geometry by fabricating vertical polymer nanowires above the metallic nano-rings. The nanowires guide single photons into a mode that is suitable for collection with small numeral apertures, such as single mode fibres

    Impact of country governance mechanisms on carbon emissions performance of multinational entities

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    This study investigates the impact of country governance mechanisms on carbon emissions performance of private sector organisations, using empirical evidence from 336 top multinational entities (MNEs) over a 15-year period. The results show that, at the aggregate level, Control of Corruption (b = −0.021, p &lt; 0.01) and Voice &amp; Accountability (b = −0.015, p &lt; 0.05) are significantly and negatively associated with carbon emissions rate. While Political Stability (b = 0.007, p &lt; 0.05) and Government Effectiveness (b = 0.018, p &lt; 0.05) have significant positive impact on carbon emissions rate, the impact of Regulatory Quality and Rule of Law is negative but insignificant. Empirical evidence supports the conclusion that the existing institutional environment is not sufficient to deliver the net zero transition. There is a need for more coordination, strategic planning, and delivery monitoring in government institutions to achieve decarbonisation targets. The study contributes to knowledge within the context of the identified research gaps. First, the study adds to the limited literature on the impact of country governance on carbon emissions reduction, particularly with reference to scope 3 emissions. Second, with the sustainable development goals (SDGs) set to expire by 2030, the study provides empirical evidence on efforts governments of countries are making in achieving decarbonisation targets through improvement in country governance quality. Third, the study shows that the impact of the country governance on the carbon emissions performance of MNEs is contextual and varies across jurisdictions/geographical regions. Finally, the paper contributes to the debate on the actualisation of Agenda 2030, because presenting empirical evidence on the impact of country governance mechanisms on carbon emissions reduction—particularly scope 3 emissions—is an important discourse in the realisation of the SDGs

    An inquiry into diffusion processes over interaction networks

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    This thesis aims to develop a comprehensive framework for modelling and controlling diffusion processes over interaction networks, striving to inform and improve public health policies against viral epidemics. Our work introduces four main contributions: (1) a new modelling technique that captures the heterogeneity and uncertainty of contact patterns and evaluates the impact of different testing and tracing strategies, which can be utilized in conjunction with any compartmental formulation to study complex spreading dynamics. Using this technique, we introduce and simulate a novel epidemiological model, SEIR-T, showing that contact tracing in a COVID-19 epidemic can be effective despite suboptimal digital uptakes or pervasive interview inefficiencies; (2) a versatile and cost-effective approach to optimizing the allocation of testing, tracing and vaccination resources based on the network structure and epidemic dynamics, which ranks individuals based on their role in the network and the epidemic state, being adaptable to the budget and risk preferences of regional policy makers, while still breaking high-risk transmission chains; (3) a reinforcement learning-based agent, underpinned by a highly transferable graph neural architecture, that can find optimal epidemic control policies from simulation data, outperforming standard heuristic approaches by up to 15% in the containment rate, while far surpassing more standard random samplers by margins of 50% or more; and (4) a range of visualization tools that can aid in understanding and communicating the effects of public health interventions to policy makers and the populace, whichinclude prediction explanation and state visualization techniques for scrutinizing the learning-based policies introduced, and other tools the authorities can use to assess the cost-benefit trade-off of enacting different combinations of interventions. The simulation-control framework we introduce is particularly flexible and can effectually model the spread of various pathogens or analogous diffusion processes, such as information dissemination. Similarly, the learned epidemic policies are versatile and easily transferable to a wide range of diffusion scenarios and network structures.<br/

    Remapping wetness perception in upper limb amputees

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    Recent research has made remarkable strides in restoring sensory feedback for prosthetic users, including tactile, proprioceptive, and thermal feedback. Herein, a sensory modality that has been largely neglected is explored: the ability to perceive wetness. Providing moisture-related information to prosthesis users can increase their overall sensory palette toward a more natural sensory experience. A rapid decrease in skin temperature is found to trigger the illusion of contact with something wet. Two body parts were tested, the upper arm and the lateral abdomen, in a group of non amputated participants, and it was found that a wetness sensation can be elicited and maintained for at least 10 s in 86% and 93% of participants, respectively. It is then demonstrated how to mediate the wetness sensation in real-time using a thermal wearable device that mimics the thermal properties of the skin. Finally, two upper limb amputee individuals used their prosthetic arm, sensorized with the device, to discriminate between three levels of moisture; their detection accuracy was similar to one they had with their intact hands. The current study is a stepping stone for future prostheses aimed at restoring the richness of sensory experience in upper limb amputees


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