Saturday, June 18, 2016

A Historic Week for Oxford University and England

This is a truly momentous week and it is fascinating to be living in Oxford, England while history is going to be made. Since late April I have been a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College at Oxford University and I have been writing about the experience.

This Thursday, June 23,  England will be voting on the referendum on the European Union, that is, whether to Remain or to Leave.  The term Brexit, which has been top news not only in England, but also in the United States, refers to Britain exiting the European Union.

Many of the discussions at the luncheons that the Fellows attend at All Souls College have been around this issue with the majority of Fellows that I have been speaking with definitely favoring to Remain in the European Union. As someone whose passion is scientific research there are clear advantages to Remain. Researchers and scholars in England can avail themselves of European Union grants and collaborations. I have even served on the Advisory Board of a well-funded European Union grant. With Brexit, it would become much more difficult to secure research funding and to have multicountry research projects funded. Also, the free movement of those in the EU provides for a great vitality and energy and also spurs innovation and fresh ideas.

Lately, frankly, as I check out both and these websites' top stories tend to be identical so that I sometimes wonder whether I am in the US or in England. Now our hearts are breaking because of the horrific murder of Jo Cox, the MP (Member of Parliament) in broad she was going about her work. The mother of two small children, ages 3 and 5, who had been elected in may 2015,  she had worked as the policy chief in Oxfam in Oxford and her husband works for Save the Children. To have a mentally ill individual kill such a shining light has created a pall over all of us. Her husband' tribute was incredibly touching and now every time that I walk along the Thames I will think of her since she lived with her family on the river in a house boat. She was for Remain. Even my neighbor from Amherst sent me an email yesterday expressing her shock and horror at this terrible tragedy.

On Wednesday, we will be taking part in honorary degree celebrations at Oxford University, where 10 will be honored, including the Nobel laureate in Economic Sciences, Paul Krugman, whose Opeds in The New York Times on the potential impacts of a Brexit I have been reading, as well as Professor Millie Dresselhaus of MIT, whom I had met when I was a Visiting Scholar and Visiting Professor there.  It is  a tradition for All Souls College to host the luncheon after the ceremony, and I received the nice invitation below for it. I would have also marched but I did not bring my Brown University cap and gown with me since I already had a lot to carry for more than two months in England.

And this coming Friday, after we have the results of the vote on the referendum, we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Visiting Fellows program at All Souls College with many Visiting Fellows returning to Oxford.  Below is a photo that the Visiting Fellows at All Souls College took recently after a delicious dinner and wonderful lecture. Included in the photo are also the Warden, Sir John Vickers, and the Dean of the Visiting Fellows, Professor Simon Hornblower. The photo was taken at the Codrington Library.  We are the Visiting Fellows for the Trinity Term this year. As a senior Fellow told me recently, he believes that the best part of All Souls College is its Visiting Fellows program and that the college admitted women as Fellow.s

The full day program next Friday is splendid and is featured below and I hope to share photos with you of both the honorary degree recipients and the Visiting Fellows program later in the week. Women were admitted as Fellows at All Souls College only in 1979.