Images to watch the universe by….

IMG_1969There are accompanying images to the paper on the De luce  which are available on Youtube. They are quite mesmeric, and form something of the basis for the 3D Visualisation, which is to come this year (and we are looking forward to that very much indeed). On that score Nick Holliman from the University of York is designing and building the visualisation (we have a building and manuscript photo shoot coming up in Durham over the next few months) gave a talk on February 18th on ‘Computational methods for binocular 3D visualisation’ to the Centre for Digital Heritage, University of York which included a showing of the current draft of the 3D film ” The Medieval Cosmos”. More to come…


Do we live in a universe at all: some thoughts from Mark Robson

John of Sacrobosco's De Sphera
John of Sacrobosco’s De sphera of about 1230, John ‘Holywood’ was an almost direct contemporary of Grosseteste c.1195-c.1256

The Durham Grosseteste Project involves looking at the works of Bishop Grosseteste and trying to understand his ideas in the light of theIMG_1932 conceptual background of an ordered universe. Grosseteste understood himself to be playing a role in a divinely ordered hierarchy of creatures. He was within a Grand Plan, a teleologically ordered whole whose aim was to glorify God and to reflect or even image some of God’s glory. To Grosseteste balance and beauty were expected since they reflected the harmony and beauty of God. He looked at light as the primeaval creation, the first stroke of God’s brush as he expressed His Glory. Continue reading

The week, or so, after Christmas: Hannah at Cambridge

CambridgeHannah is talking this afternoon, 9th January, at 4.30 to the Cambridge Philosophical Society, part of a day devoted

Grosseteste's rainbow co-ordinates mapped onto perceptual colour plane by H. Smithson
Grosseteste’s rainbow co-ordinates mapped onto perceptual colour plane by H. Smithson

to Colour in all of its diversity of meaning, aspects and applications.  Hannah’s talk will be on the De iride mapping she has been leading:

‘Colours of the rainbow: A three-dimensional colour space from the thirteenth century’

The event is fee and open to all, and takes place in the Department of Engineering. If you are lucky enough to be around Cambridge, and this afternoon, do drop in.

This is the first of many Ordered Universe events this year: keep your eyes on the blog for more.

Colour, Rainbows, Crombie and the Ordered Universe

The University Church of St Mary the Virgin, from which the University of Oxford developed, and with whose surroundings Grosseteste would have been familiar.

Hannah and I enjoyed the hospitality of the Society for the History of Medieval Technology and Science at the weekend, in Oxford and very much enjoyed presenting the Ordered Universe project to their members and other attendees. It was lovely to meet Geoffrey Hindley, involved with the Society from its inception, and all the more interesting to learn that A. C. Crombie had been the inaugural President (Jean Gimpel was another founding figure). It seemed appropriate, if not a little daunting, to present our collaborative research in this context, and I was reminded of James McEvoy’s comment, that Crombie saw his subject as one in which ‘the interests of historians, philosophers and scientists should meet and cross-fertilise’. Well, we hope we honoured some of that commentary in our talk.  Continue reading

How history of science informs individual development of scientific reasoning and supports a reflective perspective thereon


Per Kind, at our October workshop, put forward the idea that informative parallels can be drawn between the development of science-knowledge across chronological time, i.e. the history of science, and the development of scientific reasoning within the individual, across developmental time. This opens up an indirect way of how studying Grosseteste and his time can help us improve science teaching: by analysing the succession of methods and processes that have characterised science across the centuries, maybe we can learn about how scientific reasoning develops across childhood and adolescence and about the factors that drive this development. In this way, the Grosseteste project could make important theoretical contributions to our models of how reasoning skills develop. From these models, we could then infer which specific cognitive caveats need to be tackled at different stages of the learning process, and this would have general implications for how we teach science across different age groups. Continue reading

Cool for School: A Grossetestian framework for teaching scientific knowledge and how science works

IMG_1932Nowadays teachers are expected to have clearly defined learning objectives for every lesson, but more fundamentally it must be definedwhat the overall aims of education should be. These seem to cluter around the acquisition of firstly a broad and in-depth knowledge base across the disciplines, and secondly of procedural skills that enable students to critically evaluate information and to identify gaps in arguments and evidence. Having laid out learning objectives along these lines, we should take a step back and compare the current educational strategies against these standards. Continue reading

Creation from Nothing: Mark Robson’s ‘Ontology and Providence in Creation’

41CbUKaUKOL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_SX385_SY500_CR,0,0,385,500_SH20_OU02_Mark Robson’s new book provides a critical perspective on philosophical attitudes to the notion of creation from nothing. Mark is one of the teachers within the Durham Grosseteste Project, based at St Robert of Newminster school. Creation from nothing , ex nihilo, underpins Grosseteste’s fundamental understanding of the created world, and this discussion demonstrates the contemporary urgency with which this notion should be addressed. The question of multiple worlds was one debated within the 13th century, and which forms part of a discussion for a paper coming to a science journal near you soon. Continue reading

Workshop 2: Medieval Science and the Modern Curriculum: Part 3c ADVANCED SECONDARY

Ulrike, Per, Kathy and Andrew Powney

Our third and final group, took what appeared to be a slightly different approach to the other two, but one that ended up with a great deal of continuity with the others. Led by Per, the group involved Andrew Powney from Ampleforth College, Steven Burdon from St Bede’s Lanchester, and Mark Robson from St Robert of Newminster, Washington, as well as Tom McLeish, Richard Bower, Devin O’Leary, Kathy Bader (Durham medievalists) and Ulrike Nowak (Philosophy and Psychology, University of Oxford). Starting with the notion of collaborative reading of Grosseteste’s texts, the group thought hard about how they, in their conceptual integrity might be best deployed in the classroom. Andrew and Mark both teach religious studies, Steven teaches Science, and together with the Durham and Oxford contributors the group made considerable headway into the ways in which the activities might be carried out. Continue reading

Workshop 2: Medieval Science and the Modern Curriculum – Part 2

dmrt4One of the bedrock principles of the Durham Grosseteste Project is the activity of collaborative reading. It sounds simple, and it many respects it is, but sitting together, to read through a text, slowly and thoughtfully, creates the environment in which exciting and imaginative ideas for research take shape and evolve. All present are able to askquestions or to ask for explanation, and we have run these sessions as openly as possible, with a wide range of observers and participants from across Durham and other institutions, along with the core team. Continue reading

Workshop 2: Medieval Science and the Modern Curriculum – Part 1

At the beginning of this week we welcomed members old and new to Durham to explore the second element within OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAour network project based on Grosseteste’s scientific works, namely whether and how the ideas, concepts and problems he discusses can be used in the modern classroom. How to bring Grosseteste’s world to life and how to engage children and young adults with the challenges of crossing time and culture boundaries, are key to this process. Continue reading