From herding cats to an ordered workshop: how a common goal can cross discipline boundaries to make academia more than the sum of its parts

The social psychologist Henri Tajfel conducted a series of famous experiments to illustrate how group identities and conflicts could be constructed. One of his most interesting discoveries was revealed by accident, in what was intended to be a baseline condition. In this version of the experiment Tajfel did not encourage any sense of group identity or conflict, but merely assigned two groups two different labels. The A group, and the B group. Even in this condition however, members of each group responded as if their group members were superior to those of the other group. In a series of more elaborate conditions, Tajfel found he could easily enhance this sense of within group identification, and between group conflict. Importantly Tajfel found that whilst group divisions could easily be created, the most effective means of breaking these divisions was for both groups to work towards a common goal.

In academia we have divided ourselves into something much more potent than the A and B group, we have the sciences and the humanities. Continue reading

Ordered Universe Presents…

IMG_559220140923_091840Ordered Universe presents the two, joint, public lectures from earlier this year at the Mahfouz Forum for Interdisciplinary Studies, Pembroke College, Oxford. After a lovely introduction from the Master, Dame Lynne Brindley, we gave two linked presentations. The first, involving Tom, Giles and Richard, ‘Forming the Body of the Cosmos: Robert Grosseteste’s ‘On Light’ focused on the team’s discussion of that treatise, its background and the challenges in rendering the making of the medieval universe. Continue reading

Sound Medieval and Sound Modern: Public and the Future

IMG_2867IMG_2856Our workshop meeting concluded with the public lectures, on which Ulrike has commented already. It was a privilege to speak in the Pichette Auditorium, and a particular pleasure to see some Durham alumni in the audience – thank you Martin, Heather and Aversa. Heather had even had the privilege (!) of working through Grosseteste’s De colore and Letter 1 in my Special Subject class 2012-2013. The support from the Ordered Universe team, and the Pembroke community was also very much appreciated, from the warm introduction by the Master, Dame Lynne Brindley, to the questions which came thick and fast at the end. Continue reading

On the Generation of Sounds

For the generation of sound - Grosseteste was, apparently, an accomplished harpist.
For the generation of sound – Grosseteste was, apparently, an accomplished harpist.

20140721_130603#1Our next workshop in the Ordered Universe series is just around the corner,beginning next week on Wednesday October 1st (with a meeting for the core team), and then a two-day workshop on Thursday 2nd and Friday 3rd, with a more relaxed Saturday morning. We are delighted that this workshop forms part of the Mahfouz Interdisciplinary Forum, generously funded by the Mahfouz Foundation, at Pembroke College Oxford. Continue reading