Student Life Blog: food groups

SCIO alumna Melissa Barciela, who studied theology and philosophy with us during Michaelmas Term 2016, reflects on her Oxford experience. 

As any SSO student, I was anxious upon arrival, with the weight of academic pressure looming overhead. Yet, my time at Oxford proved to be nothing I expected and everything I did not know I needed. This truth rang true in various areas of SSO life.

Academically, Oxford pushed me to expose my academic weaknesses and overcome my fear of failure, so that I may be a better scholar and a better follower of Christ. My tutors and the SCIO faculty invited me to explore intriguing topics and assigned diverse readings that challenged my thinking. Their primary concern was not that students would prove themselves, but rather that they would improve and grow as critical thinkers and Christian members of the academy.

Another significant and unexpected piece of my time at Oxford was the community. I expected to live a lonely life secluded from community and lost in the wealth of the Bodleian resources. I have never been so pleased to be disappointed. SSO cultivated a welcoming environment of like-minded students, both passionate about scholarship and deeply committed to the Christian faith. This environment fostered inter-disciplinary dialogue, both formally during seminars and informally at the dinner table. In fact, the dinner table played a key role in my academic and personal growth during my semester abroad through what students call “food groups.”

A food group is a student-organized system of rotating dinner preparation. Each group is comprised of about eight SSO students, with one person cooking for the entire group each night. Practically, this group offsets the food cost and stress for SSO students. Yet it also provides [...]

SCIO alumna to read for MPhil at Cambridge

We are delighted by the news that SCIO alumna Hannah Grady (Michaelmas Term 2016) has been accepted to study for an MPhil in Theology at Clare College, Cambridge.

Hannah received offers from a number of universities, including Duke, Yale, Oxford, and Cambridge: ‘I chose Cambridge’, she writes, ‘because it is the best fit for my research interests.’

Concerning her proposed research, Hannah writes:
My research will consider the nature of Christian sanctification. I will be drawing metaphors for sanctification from the work of the Greek Fathers, beginning with Saint Gregory of Nyssa’s On the Soul and Life of Moses. This research will continue the work in Patristics that I began during my term in Oxford. My ultimate hope for my career, after I complete a doctorate, is to become a professor of theology.
Hannah’s passion for Patristics, which flourished while at SCIO, is reflective of her broad passion for the study of theology.  She notes:
The thing I love most about studying theology is that it offers a window into life’s biggest mysteries and deepest truths. It is thrilling to me to befriend ancient theologians and to learn from their perspective on life’s biggest questions. The academic pursuit of theology is a worshipful experience for me, full of wonder and delight.
Hannah read for an undergraduate degree in Biblical and Theological Studies at Biola University and was accepted to SCIO in the autumn of her final year. Hannah writes that her time here at SCIO was deeply formative, shaping her entrance into graduate studies:
My network of friends and mentors from SCIO have been integral in my journey toward graduate studies. It was in conversations with SCIO faculty that I made the decision to continue on [...]

SCIO alumna selected for prestigious internship

 

SCIO is delighted by the news that Michaelmas 2017/Hilary 2018 alumna, Carolyn Richards, has been selected for a prestigious summer internship as a research assistant at the Gopnik Cognitive Development Laboratory at UC Berkeley.

Expanding on her role in the laboratory, Carolyn writes: ‘During the internship, I will be working under a postdoctoral researcher on several experiments that are at different stages but that all focus on children’s cognitive development. The general focus of the lab is on how children develop cause and effect reasoning and how they learn from and about other people.’ Concerning her personal motivations and the learning opportunities that the internship will provide, she continues: ‘I am looking forward to getting experience with different stages of the research process, such as experimental design and data collection. I am excited to learn more about how children understand the world.’

As she reflects upon her time here in Oxford, Carolyn describes the past year as ‘an important step in learning how to learn, developing self-discipline, and discovering what is involved in academic life.’ All participants in the SCIO Scholars’ Semester in Oxford (SSO) programme are introduced to the Oxford tutorial system, which forms the central pillar of the University’s learning experience. It is a testament to the value of the tutorial system, and to the close working relationship developed between tutor and student, as the suggestion to apply for the internship was itself supplied by Dr Emily Burdett, Carolyn’s psychology tutor at SCIO. Dr Burdett notes that:
Carolyn was an excellent student. She was my student for the course Language and Cognition, and she has also been an RA for me, working on coding videos of children for a project looking at how children [...]

SCIO alumna wins academic prizes

SCIO is delighted that alumna Rachel Sakrisson (Michaelmas Term 2017), an undergraduate at Palm Beach Atlantic University, has recently received two essay prizes.

Rachel has been awarded first place in the category of British literature at the Sigma Tau Delta International Honors Society Conference. Her prize-winning essay, written in response to a general question concerning the language used by the two principal male characters in Shakespeare’s Othello, was titled: ‘Iago, Othello, and the languages of passivity and activity’. Rachel writes that her work was ‘directly inspired by conversations about linguistics during [her] tutorials’ at Oxford. She continues:
The answer to this question seems fairly obvious: they speak the English language. However, Dr Thorpe pushed me to look beyond word-level meaning and analyze the underlying purpose of language. In doing so, I discovered that Iago and Othello have differing definitions of language (for Iago, this function is intrigue, whereas for Othello, this function is for truth).
Rachel writes of her time at SCIO that it ‘gave [her] greater understanding of the truth that there are multiple ways of thinking about literature.’ She offers the further reflection that:
Prior to SCIO, I knew that literary analysis is founded on differing opinions, but being surrounded by students from varying backgrounds gave me first hand experience of this truth. In addition to thought-provoking conversations during tutorials, the community at The Vines encouraged valuable conversations to continue outside of tutorials — at the dinner table, at tea-time, or during midnight study sessions. These conversations were always lively and interesting because they were founded on differing opinions, backgrounds, and the same interest in knowledge.
Also an awardee of the de Jager prize, offered by SCIO in recognition of outstanding scholarly work [...]

Congratulations to SCIO’s fall 2017 de Jager prizewinners

SCIO is pleased to announce the fall 2017 de Jager prizewinners.

Awarded at the close of each term, the de Jager prizes recognize outstanding scholarly work submitted by each awardee during the Scholars’ Semester in Oxford.  The de Jager prize is facilitated by Geoffrey and Caroline de Jager, whose generous gift to each prizewinner is symptomatic of their abiding commitment to academic excellence.

The prizewinners for Michaelmas Term 2017, along with their sending institutions, are named below.

Two students reflect on their time on the programme:
One of the best things about the Oxford tutorial system is the complete freedom to pursue things that interest you. While I love English literature, I like combining it with other disciplines such as psychology, history, and gender and sexuality studies. This was something I was able to do within the parameters of my tutorials, and to a greater extent through the seminar paper I wrote at the end of term. My tutors did a great job of allowing me to pursue interesting lines of research while also suggesting further resources and ways to better both my actual essays and my base of knowledge in the area I was studying. As well as gaining knowledge in my subject, I’ve become a better researcher and a better writer.

Katie Steininger

I believe it is no exaggeration to say that, in becoming part of Oxford for a term, Oxford somehow became a small part of me. The libraries and city streets were spaces that cultivated an atmosphere brimming and shining with life and learning, an instant of existence within which my dear friends and I found ourselves challenged, inspired, and enlarged. My ability and confidence as a scholar, in all the fullness of that idea, [...]

By |April 27th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

SCIO STEM student reflects on his time at Oxford

SCIO is excited to be including STEM subjects formally in its programme from 2018 on. In previous years it has in some instances been possible to arrange STEM tutorials on a case-by-case basis.  In an interview for SCIO, one alumnus, Luke Arend, reflects on his time at Oxford, where he took STEM tutorials in philosophy of psychology and neuroscience/philosophy of science, and quantum mechanics. Luke now works as a neuroscience researcher at MIT’s Center for Brains, Minds and Machines, and in his interview, he explains how his time at SCIO prepared him for a research career and the significant impact it had on him as a young academic and scientist:
 My STEM coursework changed the way I do physics: I’ve since viewed quantitative problem-solving not as mere number-crunching, but as argument-building – granted, using mathematics rather than written language. As a double major in physics and philosophy, my time at Oxford helped me realize that both disciplines rely on similar methods of critical thinking and argumentation.
Read more about SCIO’s opportunities in STEM and the full interview with Luke here.

By |March 19th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Group selected for SCIO Science and Religion project

SCIO has selected the 24 participants for the Bridging the Two Cultures of Science and the Humanities II project.

The group of participants comes from a range of universities around the world, including institutions in Canada, India, Kenya, Mexico, the United States, and Uruguay.

Funded by the Templeton Religion Trust and the Blankemeyer Foundation, project seminars will take place in Oxford, England, in the summers of 2018 and 2019. The program fosters in participants the interdisciplinary skills and understanding central to the study of science and religion.

In addition to attending the summer seminars with lectures from eminent scholars in the field, participants will work on an original research project in science and religion intended for major publication. Funds are provided for a research assistant to help the participant’s research project and establish (or bolster) a science and religion student club at the home institution.

Additionally, a weekend colloquium held in North America in February 2019 will give participants an opportunity to join with their chief academic officers, student development officers, and chaplains for discussion on issues connected to science and religion, while a roundtable with presidents from participating institutions will be held in the summer of 2019 at Oxford.

Helped by 10 specialist reviewers, the selection committee comprised:

Alister McGrath, Andreas Idreos Professor of Science and Religion, and director of the Ian Ramsey Centre, University of Oxford; academic director of Bridging the Two Cultures
Stanley Rosenberg, executive director of SCIO, including the BestSemester Scholars’ Semester and Oxford Summer Programme, and faculty member of Wycliffe Hall and the Theology and Religion Faculty, University of Oxford; project director of Bridging the Two Cultures
Michael Burdett, research fellow in religion, science, and technology at SCIO and Wycliffe Hall, Oxford; project co-director [...]

By |March 9th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Special announcement: SCIO is now offering STEM studies

SCIO is excited to announce that it is expanding its disciplinary offering to its Registered Visiting Students to include many STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) drawing on the high calibre teaching and research of the University of Oxford.
“An academic organisation that endeavours to contribute to discussions of scholarship and Christianity should strive to touch on as many core disciplines as it reasonably can. For some years I have hoped we might begin offering STEM subjects, both out of our long-standing commitment to science and religion, and affirming that STEM subjects in themselves are worthy and important, and we wish to extend the great opportunities of Oxford to students advancing in those fields. These subjects are not peripheral: they are central to SCIO’s mission.”
Dr Stan Rosenberg, Executive Director, SCIO
Applications are managed through our BestSemester website: apply now!

As part of its Scholars’ Semester in Oxford (SSO) programme, from autumn 2018 SCIO will offer courses in the following areas:

Biological sciences (e.g. animal behaviour, ecology, disease, and cells and genes)
Chemistry (e.g. electrochemistry, quantum mechanics and spectroscopy, and soft condensed matter)
Mathematics (e.g. multivariate calculus and mathematical models, number theory, and logic and set theory)
Statistics (e.g. metric spaces and complex analysis, statistical machine learning, and applied probability)
Physics (e.g. classical mechanics and special relativity, quantum physics, and plasma physics)
Theoretical computer science (e.g. intelligent systems, machine learning, and computational game theory)
Earth sciences (e.g. palaeobiology, volcanology, and planetary chemistry)

Find out more about studying STEM with SCIO.

SCIO has since 2002 been offering a Science and religion seminar as part of its Oxford Summer Programme (OSP), and will be looking forward to running this again in 2018 [...]

SCIO co-sponsors lecture on ‘Environmental issues as a new framework for Christian dialogue’

SCIO is pleased to co-sponsor a public lecture by Dr Lluís Oviedo Torró of the Pontifical University Antonianum of Rome titled ‘Environmental issues as a new framework for Christian dialogue’. Lluís Oviedo Torró’s particular interests focus on the relationship between Christian and scientific anthropologies and on empirical approaches to religion and theology. At present he is conducting research trying to incorporate cognitive insights into theological and biblical hermeneutics.  His interests point in two fundamental but clearly linked directions: the conditions of religious survival in advanced societies; and the theological impact of the scientific study of religion and the human person.

The lecture takes place on Friday 16 February at 4pm at The House of St Gregory and St Macrina, 1 Canterbury Road, Oxford, OX2 6LU. Entry is free and no booking is required. Further details can be found on the Ian Ramsey Centre for Science and Religion website.

By |February 15th, 2018|Uncategorized|0 Comments|

Elizabeth Baigent welcomes attenders to the 25th anniversary meeting of The Oxford Seminars in Cartography

Elizabeth Baigent, SCIO’s Academic Director, and Nick Millea, head of the Bodleian Library’s map collection organised an international conference at the Bodleian on 22 September 2017 to mark the 25th anniversary meeting of TOSCA, The Oxford Seminars in Cartography.

The theme of this inaugural whole-day seminar was Enlightening maps and drew speakers and audience from around the globe. From universities came, among others, Danny Dorling, University of Oxford and Katy Parker, University of Pittsburgh; from major collections came several people including the National Maritime Museum’s Megan Barford and staff from the British Library and National Library of Scotland; and the major international research project The History of Cartography was represented by Mary Pedley, co-editor of the project’s Enlightenment volume to which several speakers and attenders had contributed.

As well as listening to excellent research papers which eloquently illustrated how maps can enlighten but also obfuscate, attenders participated in discussions and had the chance to go behind the scenes in the Bodleian and examine maps from the library’s collection at first hand. With some 1.3 million paper maps and extensive digital map collections to choose from, library staff and speakers readily found items to illustrate the themes of the day, and attenders were delighted to get up close to a range of interesting items including the enigmatic Selden map of China from the mid seventeenth century, one of the first maps of China to reach Europe, and the beautiful Sheldon tapestry map of Warwickshire which dates from the 1590s.

Papers from the very successful conference will be published in a special issue of the Cartographic Journal and Elizabeth Baigent and Nick Millea plan the second of TOSCA’s all day seminars in 2020.  In the meantime TOSCA offer their normal [...]

By |December 5th, 2017|Uncategorized|0 Comments|