Blog: December 2013

A Global Village in Oxford

One of the things that I most enjoy about Oxford Summer Courses is how internationally diverse it is. Working as a Residential Dean there last summer, I was amazed by the cultural diversity represented there, with people coming from all across the world to take the course, what was created was a wonderful melting pot in which all these different cultures; lived experiences and approaches to subjects and problem solving met and informed one another. To sit at dinner at a French Restaurant in Oxford with people from Bangladesh, India, America, Lebanon, Egypt, Britain, Dubai, and The Netherlands is a brilliant experience. As someone who has lived In Britain all my life it was marvelous to talk with and get to know people from all these different cultures and to gain their perspectives on issues on which I only normally get a British perspective.

Education is only part what you learn, but also how you learn it and who you learn it with. We are pleased that while your tutorials will be one-on-one with a world expert in the field, your twice weekly seminars in small groups of three or so will be with that expert and with your fellow students, allowing you to bring your own perspectives to the questions and ideas you discuss whilst being challenged to understand the approaches of other students, from other countries, also studying your subject. You may find you leave a seminar with a totally new understanding of the impact of US Tariffs on garment production in Bangladesh, or farming in Mexico, simply because you had a chance to study the US Tariff system with someone who lives in and knows that country, and understands the impact US policy has there. This really is an invaluable experience.

Another thing that also strikes you, when you are in such a multi-cultural environment, is the similarities between people from different cultural experiences. Whether it is discussing debating technique with students from Singapore or Music taste with students from Egypt, it becomes clear how much of a global village we increasingly live in. This can only really be seen properly though when you do what Oxford Summer Courses does, and bring people together from across the globe to a small geographical space for an extended period of time.

Posted: December 27, 2013

Somerville College – Alumni

Oxford Summer Courses is hosted at Somerville College. While we are not a part of the University or the College, we are lucky enough to be able to use Somerville College rooms and facilities – to give you the experience of living in an Oxford College, and we are thrilled to be able to do that at Somerville.

Somerville was founded in 1879 as one of the first Women’s Colleges in Oxford. It has admitted men since 1994 and is situated on the Woodstock Road, close to the centre of town. Next to it is the new ‘Radcliffe Observatory Quarter’ the biggest Oxford University building project in decades. This will serve to only enhance the reputation of Somerville College in the future. Not that its reputation needs enhancing. Somerville boasts a dazzling range of inspiring Alumni, many of whom have overcome major hurdles and social barriers on their journeys to success.

Among them are Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister, Indira Ghandi, India’s first female Prime Minister; Dorothy Hodgkin, the first and only British woman to have won a Nobel Prize in Science, Dorothy L. Sayers and Iris Murdoch – both acclaimed novelists, and Cornelia Sorabji.

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While lesser known, Cornelia Sorabji (above) holds many impressive firsts to her name; not only was she the first woman to study Law at Oxford, but she was also the first Indian national to study at any British University (as well as the first woman to graduate from Bombay University). She then became the first woman to practice law in both Britain and India. It is estimated that she helped more than 600 women and orphans fight legal battles that they otherwise wouldn’t have been able to.

This means that studying with Oxford Summer Courses this summer at Somerville College puts you in the environment which inspired, encouraged and nurtured some of the most impressive, courageous and trailblazing women of the last hundred years.

Posted: December 21, 2013

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