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People and values

None of our achievements in the past year would have been possible without the commitment, expertise and passion of our people, and during 2016–17 we placed strong emphasis on investment in their skills.

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Professor Stephen Hawking


Stephen Hawking, who died on 14 March 2018, made ground-breaking contributions to the field of cosmology and in particular to our understanding of the nature and behaviour of black holes. He held the post of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at Cambridge from 1979 until 2009, thereafter becoming Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the Department of Applied Mathematics & Theoretical Physics in Cambridge. Professor Hawking published several books with the Press, including: The Large Scale Structure of Space-Time (1975) with GFR Ellis, and Three Hundred Years of Gravitation (1987), with W Israel. An extraordinary scientist and inspiration to millions, he leaves a unique and remarkable legacy.

Image: Andre Pattenden

Nobel Prize-Winner

The 2017 Nobel Prize for Chemistry was awarded to Joachim Frank (Columbia University), Jacques Dubochet (University of Lausanne) and Richard Henderson (Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge) for developing cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM). This technique makes it possible for scientists to freeze biological molecules and ‘catch them in the act’ of chemical reactions, allowing us to visualise and understand key processes in our cells for the first time.

Joachim Frank edited Molecular Machines in Biology for Cambridge University Press, a book which explains how a number of important molecular machines work and highlights how cutting-edge imaging techniques like cryo-EM help us understand how these tiny ‘motors’ carry out all of life’s essential molecular processes. Cryo-EM has been described as ‘Google Earth for molecules’, taking us down to the fine detail of atoms within proteins. With images now available of everything from proteins that cause antibiotic resistance, to the surface of the Zika virus, cryo-EM is already starting to change our basic understanding of the chemistry of life.

Executive Education

A prime example of the benefits of the Press’s partnership with the research and teaching departments in Cambridge was the October launch of the first of a series of online courses we are co-developing with the Judge Business School’s Executive Education department. The course took place over six weeks and attracted participants from across the globe and from a diverse range of industries, including banking, pharmaceuticals, oil & gas and telecoms. It featured a range of learning activities from interactive case studies and animations to moderated forums, peer review and synchronous live sessions. Feedback on both the content and design of the course was overwhelmingly positive. The students particularly valued the opportunities for peer learning and the high-quality contact time with Cambridge academics that the course afforded – both of which they saw as differentiators compared to similar online courses.

Cambridge Dictionary Online

The Cambridge Dictionary Online had an exceptional year. Since the last new print editions of Cambridge Dictionary titles were published in 2013 we have focused on expanding and developing the online dictionary, giving it greater breadth and depth of content. In 2017–18 we looked at ways to speed up the addition of more example sentences for definitions from a broader range of sources, and we built an interface to allow users to give feedback on new content – and for editors to respond. More than 11,000 new words and meanings, and hundreds of thousands of additional examples, were added. Updates to the site improved the mobile experience, and more than half of all users now access the dictionary from a mobile device rather than desktop.

All this fed through to a great expansion in traffic: by December the site ranked sixth globally among online dictionaries. By April there were more than 52 million sessions a month. More than 80 per cent of all visitors to the domain globally visit the online dictionary, making the site an important aspect of how Cambridge is perceived.

Life Adventures

Life Adventures is a new primary exams course for Spain. We are publishing the British English international edition (Power Up) simultaneously; the American English version (Level Up) will follow on at the end of 2018. The lead authors are Caroline Nixon and Michael Tomlinson, who have brought us tremendous success with Kid’s Box. Life Adventures is a response to market demand for a course that incorporates validated Cambridge exam preparation material while encouraging learners to reach a higher level of proficiency in English by the end of primary school.

The course has created two firsts: this is the first time the Press and Cambridge Exams Publishing, a joint unit between Cambridge University Press and Cambridge Assessment English, have developed first edition content together. It is also the first time we have developed natural and social science courses in English that are specifically linked to an English language product. The science courses can be taught alongside Life Adventures in bilingual schools where up to 50 per cent of the weekly timetable is taught in English, across science, arts and crafts, physical education and English language classes.

Continuous Professional Development

Our impact on learning is underpinned by our commitment to share and support good teaching practice around the world. That is why we have run over 100 training events this year – from Muscat to Kuala Lumpur – from workshops with hundreds of teachers, to curriculum planning with groups of school leaders.

We have also worked with colleagues from across our University to develop and launch the International Primary Teaching Programme – a structured and developmental approach that helps international schools plan their own strategy around the development of seven key skills areas: planning; introducing lessons; managing lessons; assessment for learning; plenaries and reflection; subject knowledge and English medium instruction. The programme is piloting initially in Turkey and Indonesia and the year ahead will see it rolled out across the world.

The Cambridge Approach

Brighter Thinking, Better Learning’ drives the Cambridge approach. Research from leading educational thinkers and teachers in Cambridge and around the world underpins our practical approaches to pedagogy. This makes better learning possible and it also enables students to accelerate their learning and develop skills for life. Principles from ‘Brighter Thinking, Better Learning’ inform all our publishing and we work with leading educationists and inspirational practitioners, putting the teacher at the heart of all we do. We build our solutions around research-based pedagogies that inspire and support teachers and learners. We are leading on developing the language of learning, using both textbooks and digital, and our resources help build the skills for study, work and life.

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