UK Scholars’ Dinner at Oxford’s ‘happiest college’

Feb 6, 2023 | Announcements, News & Media, PG News

06 February 2022: A lecture on free speech and decolonisation, and conversations about studies and lives back home were on the menu when our growing community of UK-based Ramsay Postgraduate Scholars met at the University of Oxford for a formal dinner recently.    

The students dined at Brasenose College, which consistently places as the ‘happiest college in Oxford’ in student surveys. It is also the former college of former UK Prime Minister David Cameron and former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The scholars were treated to a keynote lecture at the dinner by ethics and empire expert Professor Nigel Biggar. Professor Biggar is Emeritus Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at Oxford where he is also Director of the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life.

The event was attended by our UK-based scholars who are attending universities across the UK, including Oxford, Cambridge, University College London, London School of Economics, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. It was also attended by 2021 Ramsay Postgraduate Scholar Emma Williams who is studying a PhD in Artistic Research at Leiden University in the Netherlands.

2021 Ramsay Postgraduate Scholar Drummond Orr who is studying a Master of Philosophy in Economics at Oxford co-ordinated the event and offered this reflection on the gathering:

On a cold and rainy night in Oxford, Ramsay scholars based in Europe met for a formal dinner on Wednesday, 25th January at Brasenose College. Founded in the 16th Century, Brasenose boasts an impressive list of alumni, which includes former Prime Minister David Cameron, former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and William Golding, author of The Lord of the Flies and winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. According to its students, it is the “happiest college” at Oxford.

These events are an excellent way for Ramsay scholars to connect and take a well-earned break from their studies. Personally, I found it fascinating to talk to scholars from other disciplines, such as classical music, history, medicine, and law. We had dinner at the Medieval Kitchen, a private function room at Brasenose, with our academic guest Professor Nigel Biggar. Professor Biggar is a Professor Emeritus of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford. His latest book “Colonialism, a Moral Reckoning” will be released on February 2nd. Professor Biggar’s after-dinner speech concerned the issues he encountered publishing this book and during his research project “Ethics and Empire”. It was a fascinating speech, which provoked a lively discussion with Professor Biggar about the legacy of colonialism in Australia and the extent to which we should hold former colonial powers to account for actions committed in the past.

The Ramsay Scholars retired to the Turf Tavern after dinner, a historic pub dating back to 1381, to reflect on the evening. This pub has its own place in Australian history as it was apparently where future Prime Minister Bob Hawke “set a Guiness World Record for consuming a yard glass of ale in 11 seconds in 1954”. None of the scholars attempted such a feat during the night.

This was a great evening showcasing how the Ramsay Postgraduate Scholars are a very caring and supportive community. I am looking forward to the next time we meet.

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Media contact: Sarah Switzer 0407 816 098/