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Learning at lunch hour

Media Releases

Tue, 1 Oct 2019
Learning at lunch hour

Find out more about our Brown Bag and Green Bag research seminars!

Amidst busy schedules, it can sometimes feel like there’s not enough time to learn and grow. While lunch is often a time to reset for the afternoon over a good meal, it also offers an opportunity to learn that is both interesting and invigorating. There’s no reason why you can’t eat your fill and acquire knowledge at the same time!

This is where our Brown Bag and Green Bag research seminars come in.

Brown Bag research seminars obtain their name from the practice of employees bringing a lunch packed in a brown bag from home, or a carry-out lunch, to the workplace. These informal meetings usually occur around lunchtime — with the goal of sharing ideas and information, promoting social learning and discussion, and establishing social links, all within a relaxed environment.

At James Cook University (JCU) in Singapore, weekly Brown Bag sessions are focused on research activities in the realm of Psychology, where staff and students working on interesting research topics are invited to share their illuminating insights.

Dr Bridget McConnell playing VR game(Pictured: Dr Bridget McConnell)

“I hope to raise the profile of psychology research activities at JCU. I also hope to increase enthusiasm and appreciation of research in psychology amongst the staff and students,” said Dr Bridget McConnell, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at James Cook University in Singapore.

Dr McConnell is the brains behind the Brown Bag research seminar series at JCU, as she organises the sessions and schedules speakers for each week.

She adds, “One of the strengths of the Brown Bag is in the diversity of the speakers and topics. We have had talks on everything from sports psychology to organisational psychology to social psychology to clinical psychology.”

Dr Joanna Barlas giving a presentation(Pictured: Dr Joanna Barlas)

In one of the recent Brown Bag sessions, Dr Joanna Barlas — Senior Lecturer in Psychology at James Cook University in Singapore — presented research on the topic of “How prepared do trainee clinical psychologists in Singapore feel to work with sexual and gender minorities?”

In this research, Dr Barlas analysed interview transcripts of 11 trainee and early-career clinical psychologists, revealing the importance of awareness of their developmental stage, as well as of their own biases, assumptions and personal discomfort with respect to approaching sexual and gender minorities (SGM). Dr Barlas also made suggestions for training courses to better prepare trainee clinical psychologists for this kind of work, including explicitly teaching about SGM issues and facilitating more transparent and reflective discussions about conflicting values.

On the other hand, Mr Victor Wong, a Doctor of Psychology (Clinical Psychology) candidate at James Cook University in Singapore, shared his research on “The Effect of Acquisition and Extinction in Multiple Virtual Reality Contexts” in a Brown Bag session on 20 September 2019.

Dr McConnell commented, “I hope to bring in more guest speakers next year, and I am always open to suggestions from students and staff about who to invite.”

Dr Zhang Huiping(Pictured: Dr Zhang Huiping)

Not to be outdone, Dr Huiping Zhang, Senior Lecturer in Business at James Cook University in Singapore, coordinates a monthly Green Bag research seminar series to showcase research in the disciplines of Business, IT and Science (BITS).

Both the Brown Bag and Green Bag research seminar series began in the final quarter of 2018. However, as Dr Zhang shares, the Green Bag is named after “the hot topic of sustainable growth.”

A Green Bag session featuring Dr Adrian Kuah, Associate Professor of Business at James Cook University in Singapore, summarised a number of measures in order to enhance one’s research impact. While the audience for Green Bags typically comprises the campus community, Dr Zhang points out that this session “had several attendees from other institutions such as NUS and SUSS.”

Mr David Song presenting at a Green Bag research seminar(Pictured: Mr David Song presenting at a Green Bag research seminar)

Meanwhile, a more recent Green Bag research seminar had Graduate Certificate of Research Methods student, Mr David Song, sharing how small and medium enterprises (SMEs) should provide outsourced services to implement enterprise risk management (ERM). Such topics can be instrumental in growing technical skills and furthering careers.

What else can you expect from the Brown Bag and Green Bag research seminars? Well, you can find tasty snacks served at these sessions, alongside plenty of food for thought.

After all, as Dr McConnell quips with a knowing wink, “The pizza and Subway lunches seem to be a pretty big hit.”

Find out more information about our researchers and their research here.


Research: Professor Dean Jerry [email protected]
Media: Pinky Sibal [email protected]