Xmas evenings with philosophy

In this post we recommend three lecture series, which can be perfect listening for long evenings over the upcoming Christmas break. Each lecture series is complete in itself and consists of a set of short ‘episodes’, ideal for listening in short bursts.

General Philosophy with Peter Millican

In his General Philosophy lecture series Peter Millican takes a chronological view of the history of philosophy. Each lecture is split into 3 or 4 sections, which outline a particular philosophical problem and how different philosophers have attempted to resolve the issue. If you are interested in the ‘big’ questions about life, such as: how we perceive the world, who we are in the world and whether we are free to act, you will find this series informative, comprehensive and accessible.

Physics and Philosophy: Arguments, Experiments and a Few Things in Between is a set of short interviews that explore some of the links between the two of the most fundamental ways with which we try to answer our questions about the world around us. The topics include among the others: the nature of space and time, the unpredictable results of quantum mechanics, and the nature of the mind and how far science can go towards explaining and understanding it.

This thought provoking but accessible lecture series on Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason looks at German Philosopher Immanuel Kant’s seminal philosophical work and discusses Kantian ideas surrounding metaphysics. Each lecture looks at particular questions raised in the work, such as how do we know what we know and how do we find out about the world, dissects these questions with reference to Kant’s work and discusses the broader philosophical implications.

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Tolkien at Oxford – The Art of The Hobbit

Enjoy our podcast Tolkien and the Art of The Hobbit  and explore our series of lectures and interviews called “Tolkien at Oxford” – http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/tolkien-oxford

Tolkien at Oxford Podcast Series

In the podcast interview from 2010 entitled “The Hobbit at the Bodleian” – Judith Priestman, a Bodelian library curator explains the background to their unique collection of Tolkien’s own drawings -

“On World Book Day 2010, we decided to put on a small display of some of Tolkien’s artwork and we have a large collection of drawings and paintings, watercolours, doodles, illustrations by Tolkien. So we were really rather spoilt for choice as to know what to pick.But in the end we decided to show three of his famous watercolours that were published in ‘The Hobbit’, and the dust jacket which he designed himself, and the first edition of ‘The Hobbit’, which he also designed himself – the covers of it, and the black and white illustrations inside it.

And then we also found this wonderful sheet of doodles .. a real find to discover it. It was rather difficult to decide which paintings we wanted to show. But, in the end, we picked the ones that had been the most popular. We picked in particular, one drawing called ‘Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves’, which was Tolkien’s very favourite of all the drawings and paintings he produced in the course of his life.

And of course, you have to remember that he was painting and drawing from when he was a toddler, really. So we’ve got evidence of his art work from a very early age, from the age of about five or six right through till he died. He was a very, very talented designer indeed.He couldn’t draw people. That was the only thing he couldn’t do. One of the drawings we showed was the wonderful one of Smaug the dragon on his golden horde. It’s a very vibrant painting.And it’s got a picture of Bilbo bowing in the bottom corner. And he’s wearing boots, which is very extraordinary. In all the pictures – in all the watercolours in the Hobbit, Bilbo’s wearing boots. Bilbo with his marvellous curly hair on his feet and leathery soles that don’t require footwear.But he is wearing boots. And he’s not very well drawn. But, for the rest of it, he really did put down in image form this extraordinary imagination that he had.
The thing about paintings as opposed to the illustrations is that these paintings, which were shown on World Book Day, didn’t actually appear in the first edition of ‘The Hobbit’. Tolkien always called it an illustrated manuscript, it was a manuscript that was in circulation long before it was published. He showed it to all his friends at Oxford, the Inklings group, and C.S. Lewis read it a long while before it was ever published. And Tolkien had illustrated it with black and white drawings, pen and ink drawings. And they really are marvellous.”

Hear the full podcast – “The Hobbit at the Bodleian

The Tolkien at Oxford Series includes lectures introducing J R R Tolkien’s career, showing how medieval literature influenced his fiction, and considers the wider scheme Tolkien worked on linking his mythology to historical and  mythical events.
http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/tolkien-oxford

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Christmas listening from Oxford

The Christmas break provides a perfect opportunity to read, listen to, watch, and do things that we struggle to find the time for during the year. So Oxford podcasts invites you to embark on a journey into the world of literature, theatre, arts, and the big questions of our age.

Each lecture series we present below is complete in itself. The talks are usually accompanied by PowerPoint slides or notes to support understanding by a global audience.

Approaching Shakespeare is a lecture series by Emma Smith. Each lecture focuses on a single play by Shakespeare, and employs a range of different approaches in order to illuminate a central critical question about it.

Shakespeare was not, of course, the only dramatist of his day. In another lecture series: Not Shakespeare: Elizabethan and Jacobean Popular Theatre, Emma Smith introduces six plays which were once widely performed but are now almost forgotten. She shows how these plays can tell us a lot about what the audiences of Elizabethan and Jacobean theatre enjoyed, aspired to and worried about.

If you’d like to get more hands-on with the arts over Christmas, you might enjoy Stephen Farthing’s lecture series Elements of Drawing. Stephen presents eight practical classes using John Ruskin’s teaching collections (housed in Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum) to explain the basic principles of drawing.

Finally, if you are concerned about the future for the planet, how civilisation will adapt to emerging problems and issues such as climate change, urbanisation and the development of vaccines to fight against future pandemics, the series Big Questions for the Future is the right listening for you. Academics from the Oxford Martin School explain their various research topics in an accessible and thoughtful way and try to find practical solutions to these issues.

From Jo Wild

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Journalism and The war for Leveson’s ear

In this talk – http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/war-levesons-ear-audio, John Mair, senior lecturer at Coventry University and author of ‘The Phone Hacking Scandal; Journalism on Trial’ gives a talk for the Reuters Institute seminar series on the background surrounding the Leveson Enquiry. In his opinion this is the biggest crisis facing British journalism ever.

The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism is Oxford University’s international research centre in the comparative study of news media.

Listen to nearly 60 talks from the institute on journalism and politics here -

Oxford University Podcasts web site:

http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/series/reuters-institute-study-journalism

Oxford on iTunesU:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/itunes-u/reuters-institute-for-study/id3817031533

 

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Oxford on iTunes U – Recent highlights in Autumn 2012

October 2012 marked the fourth anniversary of the launch of Oxford’s iTunesU site, featuring audio and video podcasts from across the University. It has been a great success – 19 million downloads so far, and currently reaching a worldwide audience of 185 countries. Oxford on iTunesU has grown from a very small corpus to more than 4,000 hours of material online – ranging from quantum states to welfare states, from Philosophy for Beginners to Quantum Mechanics. This free site managed by Academic IT Services has achieved the altruistic aim of bringing Oxford thinking to a broad global audience, whilst giving our current students, staff and alumni any-time access to a wider range of lectures than they might physically be able to attend.

If you have iTunes on your computer already click here to visit Oxford’s site

Key facts since launch of Oxford on iTunesU on October 8th 2008

  • 19 million downloads from iTunesU
  • 4,200 podcast items processed
  • 3,480 academic speakers and contributors
  • A worldwide audience of 185 countries (including 31% from the USA, 17% from the UK and 7% from China)

Recent highlights in Autumn 2012 include:

The support team within Academic IT Services has continued to improve and expand the help, support and resources offered – including regular briefing sessions run fortnightly on the technical and legal issues of audio and video recording.  Oxford staff can benefit from our podcasting overview session and more advanced media training -  See http://www.it.ox.ac.uk/courses

Many more departments are now using the service to disseminate their public lectures and to engage with the public and to make sure all users can access the material, we have our updated parallel website, http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk which meets the needs of those learners restricted to web only access or those that wish to find the material through Google searches.  This web portal, with the same content as Oxford on iTunes U, offers a web friendly view of Oxford’s lectures and has the following features:

  • Material can be searched by department / college / keyword
  • Creative Commons licenced material for educational reuse is available at http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/open
  • Material is ranked highly in Google Searches
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Engage: Social Media Michaelmas podcasting series

This Michaelmas term Oxford IT Services and the Bodleian libraries have co-organised a programme of events under the name Engage.

Throughout the term staff and students can explore tools and strategies for building online presence, networking, fostering public engagement and broadening impact of their work. Each week offers a rich programme of workshops, classes and talks held by invited speakers.

If you can’t make the talks we’ve been recording them for you. All podcasts (in a mixture of audio and video formats) are going to be published in the Engage: Social Media series on the Oxford Podcasts website.

The opening talk by Professor Marcus du Sautoy launches this new series. In this talk Marcus discusses the role that digital technologies play in his work as the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford.

“For me science is both about discovery and communication. A mathematical idea only starts to live once you have brought it alive in somebody else’s mind” he says. Marcus then goes on to discuss how Twitter allows him to take on the role of a “science communicator” for a wider public, how it offers him “a very fast and furious way” of finding information and staying in touch with the science community.

Twitter is just one of the tools explored in this talk. Marcus enthusiastically talks about the Maths in the City project and how it is an example of “the blend between engaging people very personally on the tours but also having the possibility of hitting a lot of people in one go” and about a new stage in book publishing where the reader ceases to be a spectator but can engage with science alongside doing the reading.

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The Gamesmakers: Oxonians Preparing for London 2012

In this podcast Alumni discuss their involvement with the Olympics (Video version) or (Audio version)

A panel discussion from the Alumni Weekend 2012 with some of the Oxonians most closely involved with the successful Olympics bid, providing a fascinating insight into the thrills and anxiety of preparing for London 2012.

The series also includes a historical overview of the Oxford sporting connection.

To find out more about the Oxford connection visit the University Olympics portal:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/subsite/olympics/olympics/

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Oxford’s work in the Higgs boson-like particle discovery

Dr Alan Barr explains all in this podcast – http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/higgs-boson-particle-discovery-claimed-large-hadron-collider-audio

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider claim the discovery of a particle believed to be the long-sought Higgs boson.

Dr Alan Barr

Alan Barr of Oxford University’s Department of Physics, UK physics coordinator for LHC’s ATLAS experiment, describes what the world’s highest energy particle accelerator saw, Oxford’s role in the research and what it means for science.

“If this particle really is the Higgs boson, then we will have precise knowledge about the particles and forces of the Standard Model. That really deserves something of a celebration. But we should be cautious. Remember that, if the astronomers are correct, Standard Model particles make up only about 5% of the contents of the universe.

The “Dark Matter” and “Dark Energy” which are believed to control the evolution of the universe as a whole have never yet been made in the lab. Understanding this other 95% of the universe is an exciting prospect, and is sure to exercise the combined intellects and technological prowess of new astronomers and particle physicists for many decades to come.

With luck, the first clues may come in the next few years, as we turn up the LHC to even higher energies and probe even further into new and undiscovered terrain”.

More on this story here:
http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/science_blog/110704.html

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Aung San Suu Kyi at Oxford University Encaenia 2012

http://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/aung-san-suu-kyi-honorary-degree-acceptance-speech-video

Aung San Suu Kyi at Oxford University Encaenia 2012

Aung San Suu Kyi has received an honorary degree from the University of Oxford at a ceremony in the Sheldonian Theatre today, along with seven leading figures from the worlds of science, the arts, intelligence and business.

Daw Suu, Chairman of the Burmese National League for Democracy (NLD) and member of the Burmese parliament, was awarded the honorary doctorate in civil law in April 1993, but until now has been unable to receive it in person.

She received the award at Encaenia, the University’s annual ceremony at which honorary degrees are conferred on distinguished men and women and benefactors are commemorated.

Aung San Suu Kyi told attendees at the University of Oxford’s annual Encaenia ceremony this afternoon that her Oxford experience ‘helped me to cope with all the challenges I had to face’ and that it taught her ‘respect for the best in human civilisation’.

In a break with tradition, Daw Suu, who is Chairman of the Burmese National League for Democracy and member of the Burmese parliament, was invited to give a speech after receiving her honorary doctorate in civil law at the ceremony, held in the Sheldonian Theatre.

You can view a video of her full speech here.

She told a packed audience that ‘during the most difficult years I was upheld by memories of Oxford. These were among the most important inner resources that helped me to cope with all the challenges I had to face … During the years I was under house arrest my university, the University of Oxford, stood up and spoke up for me’. She said she cherished her time at St Hugh’s College where she read Philosophy, Politics and Economics (1964-1967) and formed ‘simple’ but ‘very precious’ memories of spending time with friends.

‘These are very precious memories because I had lived a happy life and this made me understand so much better the young people of Burma who wanted to live a happy life and had never been given an opportunity to lead one.’ She said that on meeting current students at St Hugh’s, she saw herself: ‘They were so open, as we were open, because we had been given the chance to be open. We were not afraid, there was no reason for us to be afraid, and this opened us to the world.’

Turning to one of the other honorands, she revealed: ‘When I was under house arrest I was also helped by the books of John Le Carré … they were a journey into the wider world. These were the journeys that made me feel that I was not really cut off from the rest of humankind.’

The most important thing she had learnt at Oxford, she said, was ‘respect for the best in human civilisation – and the best in human civilisation comes from all parts of the world … it gave me a confidence in humankind, it gave me a confidence in the innate wisdom of human beings.’

Of her Oxford experience she said she was with ‘students from all around the world, but we were all the same, we were all students of this university. There is some magic that makes us feel that nothing separates us, neither religion, nor race, nor nationality … Oxford is a place of tremendous broadmindedness … every human being is expected to have a value and a dignity.’

She said that the ‘saddest thing in Burma over the last decades is the lack of campus life for university students … university life has been shattered … I would like to see university life restored to Burma in all its glory and I would be so grateful if my old university, the University of Oxford, could help to bring this about.’ Students in Burma should be ‘confident they will be able to do their best for the world … in the belief that the world also wants to do the best for them,’ she added.

Looking at the prospects for Burma, she predicted that it would not be a ‘smooth road’ but ‘a road that we will have to carve out for ourselves; this is a road that we will have to build as we go along … too many people are expecting too much from Burma at this moment … this road is there in our hearts and minds but not actually there yet … we will need your help, and the help of others all around the world, to make sure that it leads to where we want our country to go.’

The other honorands were Baroness Eliza Manningham-Buller, former Director General of the Security Service; author David Cornwell (aka John le Carré); the President of Harvard University, Professor Drew Faust; Sir Howard Stringer, Chairman of Sony Corporation; Professor Charles Taylor, Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at McGill University; Dr Henry Barnett, former President and Scientific Director of the Robarts Research Institute; and physicist Professor William Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Oxford, Professor Andrew Hamilton, said: ‘We were honoured to welcome Aung San Suu Kyi back to the University of Oxford, her alma mater, after so many years. The University awarded her an honorary degree in 1993, and for her to finally be able to collect it is a momentous occasion both for us and for her.

‘She is returning to a city and university that was her home for several formative years; we have the honour of welcoming an alumna who is one of the great figures of the 20th and 21st centuries.’

Daw Suu arrived in Oxford yesterday on her 67th birthday. She stayed at St Hugh’s, the college where she studied as an undergraduate, where a private party was held for friends and family complete with birthday cake.

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New video of “the biggest project we’ve ever had in Oxford”

A new video shows the latest building developments on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter site.

http://www.ox.ac.uk/media/news_stories/2012/121206.html

The video, which can be seen on the University’s YouTube page, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the refurbishment of the Radcliffe Infirmary building and the view from the new Somerville accommodation buildings.

Professor William James, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Planning and Resources, said: ‘This is probably the single biggest project that we’ve ever had in Oxford and in terms of a building project it’s the largest certainly in the past 100 years.’
New Radcliffe House (formerly known as the Jericho Health Centre) will open next month on the Walton Street side of the site.
The Mathematical Institute is on course to open in September 2013 and will benefit the 10% of Oxford students who study a core element of maths as part of their degree.

The video was shot by Tom Wilkinson of the Publications and Web Office in the University’s Public Affairs Directorate.
Updates on the Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, including a live webcam and time lapse video, are available here.

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