OxNet Access Week – Half-Way Through!

News on the OxNet Access to University scheme, with which Ordered Universe collaborates, and for whom we organise a year-long strand based in the North-East on Grosseteste, medieval science, and our project ethos of collaboration. The OxNet Access Week opens to the main cohorts tomorrow; the Ordered Universe strand has already enjoyed a week grappling with comets and the elements. We’ve had a very stimulating time working with the students from schools in the North-East and from the North-West, through a mixture of pre-recorded films, and live question and answer sessions led by Giles Gasper and Sarah Gilbert. The films came from a wide range of perspectives within the research group, from Tom McLeish and Brian Tanner, on the history of observation of comets from the ancient world to the modern-day, and the history of elements. The indefatigable Sigbjørn Sønnesyn made clear and accessible Grosseteste’s arguments in both of the two treatises we examined, with Giles and Brian also providing insight into the context and specific aspects of On the Impressions of the Elements in particular. And then we were treated to two films on medieval astronomy and obersational instruments by Sarah and Seb Falk. And add to all of that three films in a series we called ‘Be Inspired’, from Jamie Parker (actor), Rachael Lloyd (opera singer), and Alan Fentiman(filmmaker), all reflecting on their careers in the creative arts, how inspiration comes to them and the importance of training, discipline, collaboration, and a sense of fun as well as purpose. We had pop-quiz tests (with the ambivalence of some of the answers pointed out!), short-answer commentaries (all already marked by Walker Christian) and are looking forward very much indeed to the activities for next week.

The array of sessions organised by OxNet is amazing, from medieval Arabic poetry, to the First World War, and questions of contemporary importance on imperialism and slavery.  Giles will be introducing the school proper, and then for the Ordered Universe strand we have a collaborative reading session, and and on Wednesday an absolute treat with a Colour Vision session with Hannah Smithson and her lab in Oxford – all of this online. We’ll end on Friday with student essays and posters, and a final prize-giving session and graduation from the access school. It is always a privilege to be involved in OxNet activities and the response from the students to the work that we do has been inspiring – not least for the four volumes we have yet to embark on!


Image credits: The Projection Studio (above and final) and Rosie Reed-Gold (glasswork).


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