Research published by SCIO’s senior tutor, Dr Elizabeth Baigent

Two recent publications by Elizabeth Baigent, SCIO’s senior tutor, bring to a close her long-running research interest in a famous—or infamous—Victorian woman traveller.  Kate Marsden was a nurse who in the 1890s travelled to the far reaches of Siberia to bring relief to neglected lepers there and who subsequently raised money to found a hospital in Siberia which for many decades treated leprosy patients and then patients with mental health problems. Acclaimed by some as a selfless and fearless heroine, labouring in the name of Christ for the poor and outcast, she was accused by others of being a self serving imposter who spent charity funds on herself, a lesbian and/or the mistress of a Russian general, and a social climber who used her work to curry favour with the great and good, including the British royal and Russian imperial families.  Whatever the truth of the matter in this extraordinary story, Marsden’s actions and the reactions they provoked in others tell us much about how women were viewed in Victorian and Edwardian society.  Elizabeth Baigent’s present research centres on an earlier woman traveller, Marianne Starke, also a nurse, but best known as a writer of guide books to a formula later taken up by John Murray and Karl Baedeker.

For article and book chapters see
E. Baigent, ‘Travelling bodies, texts, and reputations: the gendered life and afterlife of Kate Marsden and her mission to Siberian lepers in the 1890s’, Studies in Travel Writing 18.1 (2014), 34–56;

E. Baigent, ‘”One could never reckon up all her misstatements!” Lies and deception in the life and texts of Kate Marsden, traveller to Siberia in the 1890s’, in Women, travel writing, and truth, ed. C Broome Saunders (2014), 11–29;

E. Baigent, ‘Kate Marsden’, in Geographers: Biobibliographical Studies, eds. H. Lorimer and  C.W.J. Withers (2008), 63–92.






SCIO staff member appointed Lecturer in Twentieth-century British and European History

SCIO is delighted to announce that Dr Sam Brewitt-Taylor, a longstanding member of the SCIO team, has been appointed Lecturer in Twentieth-century British and European History at Plymouth University. Sam served SCIO first as junior dean and latterly as lecturer in history, and so contributed both to the community life and the academic development of successive cohorts of students. Sam recently finished his doctorate on the 1960s Church of England, and is currently revising his thesis for publication with Oxford University Press.
He commented, ‘I look back on my junior deaning years as some of the happiest times of my life. I am deeply grateful to SCIO for providing such a happy environment in which to live, work, teach, and serve, and indeed for making my research possible in the first place.’

Oxford interdisciplinary seminars in science and religion: application process now open

We are pleased to announce that the application process for the science and religion seminars, Bridging Two Cultures, funded by the Templeton Religion Trust, is now open. Alister McGrath has joined this project as its academic director and we will run seminars in Oxford in July 2015 and 2016 and provide funding for on-campus activities. To apply please click here. This grant-funded project, along with our work with the Green Scholars Initiative, creates an excellent backdrop for the two student programs we offer.

Oxford tutor and SCIO alumna is awarded Chancellor’s Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh

Dr Lydia Schumacher, currently a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in the University of Oxford’s Faculty of Theology and Religion and Tutor in Doctrine at Wycliffe Hall, will take up a Chancellor’s Fellowship in the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh from 1 September 2014.  Lydia was a SCIO student in Hilary term (spring term) of 2004 and took tutorials in Augustine, philosophy of religion, and medieval studies which played a considerable role in forming the research interests she has pursued in her academic career since that time. More information about the prestigious position is available on the University of Edinburgh website.

SCIO announces Balancing Perspectives report release


SCIO is pleased to announce the public release of a substantial research report that was written for the John Templeton Foundation (JTF) by the CCCU, as part of the Balancing Perspectives research project. This report gives a sector-wide analysis of science and religion resourcing across all CCCU member institutions. It is the first of its kind and is already being used by the CCCU and JTF in creating new programming and in assessing where to provide future funding. Please visit our Balancing Perspectives page to download the report.

SCIO alumna graduates PhD from the University of Edinburgh

Lauren Ware (née Hosty) who attended the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford in Michaelmas Term (fall semester) 2005, has recently graduated her PhD from the University of Edinburgh with a thesis entitled ‘Plato’s bond of love: eros as participation in beauty’. She is one of the many students who find their time in Oxford on a SCIO programme integral in their decision to pursue an academic career.
Lauren says, ‘I’m so proud to be a part of the SCIO family, and remember my own ‘Oxford days’ so very fondly. My undergraduate degree was in political science and, though I was always partial to Plato, it was at Oxford with my tutorials on The Republic that the seeds were planted for how I wanted to approach the dialogues for my graduate study in philosophy. [Oxford] really was a transformative experience [for me] not just as a student but as an individual as well…the fellowship and community, being a part of the student societies, and just all the support we got from the staff was amazing. It was definitely the highlight of my undergraduate degree.’

SCIO staff at VIP event at Vatican opening of Verbum Domini II exhibition

Drs Jonathan Kirkpatrick, co-author of the exhibition catalogue Verbum Domini II, and Stan Rosenberg, member of the Green Scholars Initiative (GSI) board of advisors, attended the grand opening of the special exhibition on 1 April 2014.  The exhibition is currently taking place at the Braccio di Carlo Magno, Vatican City, and displays ancient manuscripts and bibles dating from antiquity to the present and includes a page of Codex Vaticanus, a page from the Codex Climaci Rescriptus, early fragments of the New Testament dating from the 2nd and 3rd centuries, a host of early translations from around the world from the earliest Tyndale and King James translations through to translations into Ojibwa, Seneca, Swedish, and a host of other languages. These are assembled from the Green Collection and the Vatican Library primarily and represent internationally important collections of manuscripts. This follows an earlier exhibition, Verbum Domini, which was held at the Vatican in 2012, and ‘features a unique assemblage of Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Protestant, and Jewish treasures, displayed against immersive backgrounds, to tell the story of the Judeo-Christian Scriptures throughout the ages’ (from Verbum Domini advertising). Information on the exhibition can be found at www.verbum-domini.com.

As part of this trip Stan Rosenberg received special permission to go down into the archaeological dig underneath the Scala Sancta (across from the Lateran basilica, San Giovanni) to view the sixth-century fresco of St Augustine of Hippo in what was probably Gregory the Great’s library of the Lateran palace.

As well as contributing to these research projects, SCIO also organizes on the behalf of the Green Scholars Initiative the annual  Logos in Oxford: A Summer Workshop on Biblical Texts, Vocation, and the Christian Mind.




SCIO announces latest Oxford student prize winners

SCIO is delighted to announce the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford de Jager prize winners for fall 2013. These students showed exceptional academic performance in the following aspects of the programme

SCIO students often find their time on the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford (SSO) both intellectually challenging and highly rewarding. Some of the prize-winners told us how they found their semester in Oxford.

Coming to Oxford helped me understand where my own discipline fits in the larger academic landscape. As a political scientist, I enjoyed living in a house with people studying literature and philosophy because it helped me develop a more nuanced perspective on my own studies. I loved sitting in desks at libraries where scholars have read for hundreds of years and feeling like I was participating in some still unwinding story.
Kristabel Stark
I’ve always been a student who loved learning and was curious about nearly everything; in Oxford I had to work harder at learning than I have at any other point in my schooling.  However, the conversations and relationships with fellow students, tutors, and other scholars were worth the hard work.  SCIO inspired me to live a more academic life, regardless of whether I pursue graduate education in the future.
Abby Stocker
Oxford’s tutorial system has helped me learn to better articulate my thoughts and to better argue for my opinions. My tutors listened to and engaged with my ideas …  the genuineness of that conversation combined with their patience convinces me that it is worth it to continue to wrestle with whatever it is I am struggling to get across in my writing.
Aly Inouye
My time in Oxford was highly influential to both my academic and future career goals. Studying art history and [...]

Templeton awards SCIO major grant for Oxford seminars

We are pleased to announce that the Templeton Religion Trust has awarded SCIO a grant of about £1 million to carry out an enhanced set of summer seminars aimed at developing interdisciplinary skills among faculty in the disciplines of science and religion.

The seminars, to be held in Oxford in July 2015 and 2016, will provide a significant opportunity for 25 faculty from member institutions of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities across the globe. The project will also provide funding for enriched opportunities for students on the home campuses and a shortened seminar for the presidents of participating campuses. All together the project aims to contribute to the developing dialogue in campuses on this most important field which is at the centre of so much attention and do so in a way which will help these universities enhance their campus climate so as to have significant impact.

Alister McGrath will join as the academic director for the project, and will be joined by Drs Stan Rosenberg, Michael Burdett, and John Roche who will manage this exciting new project.

See the initial program brochure for more info. Application information will be posted in summer 2014 with faculty applications due in the autumn.

SCIO students visit London, Hilary term 2014

All our new Hilary term 2014 SCIO students, as well as the year-long students from last term, have now arrived safely and are busy working on their weekly tutorial papers, attending lectures, and generally settling into the academic rhythm of the Oxford term.

This weekend a lot of us relaxed with an all-day tour of London, which included visiting a few of the most popular sites, but also enjoying some of the less-known jewels hidden within this amazing city, such as the ruined church of St Dunstan in the East. Attending an Evensong service at St Paul’s Cathedral provided a welcome spiritual rest within quite a busy day, and for some was the highlight of a fantastic day together.