“Education is all about changing your mind.”

This is a quotation from Kathy Bader, one of the PhD students involved in the Ordered Universe Project. It sums up an almost self-evident truth, and nonetheless it’s something one can sometimes forget when it comes to thinking about choosing between courses or jobs or generally between things to which one could devote one’s time and effort. Continue reading

Grosseteste goes public: disseminating medieval and modern science

IMG_2853IMG_2856The Mahfouz Forum on Grosseteste’s De generatione sonorum (On the generation of sound) culminated in a set of public lectures held in the Pichette Auditorium of Pembroke College. With this having been the third time that I got to enjoy being part of an Ordered Universe gathering, I had heard before some elements of these talks given by Tom McLeish, Giles Gasper, Hannah Smithson and Richard Bower. But far from making the experience repetitive, it has been very inspiring to see how the speakers’ approach and evaluation of the topics has been evolving and expanding. In addition, it’s rewarding to see how my own understanding of the themes has developed from when I first joined, and how some of the concepts I initially couldn’t get my head around by now seem quite familiar. Continue reading

On the Generation of Sounds – tomorrow


IMG_5592The workshop participants are gathering, and the Ordered Universe research project starts its next treatise formally on Thursday, but with a series of project meetings tomorrow. Continue reading

Pembroke College Oxford – a Very Short Introduction

IMG_1170After workshops and conferences held in Durham, Porto and Lincoln, it seems only right that the interdisciplinary and international team of the Ordered Universe Project is now meeting in Oxford – the very place where Grosseteste spent part of his early scholarly career and where today the Bodleian and College libraries keep many of the original manuscripts. Having graduated from the Psychology and Philosophy undergraduate course just this summer, I’m especially looking forward to being in Oxford next week, now as a Pembroke alum. 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

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

Why the scientists?

Bridging humanities and sciences
Bridging humanities and sciences

At the heart of the Ordered Universe Project is the interdisciplinary collaboration between medievalists and scientists. In this way light is shed onto Grosseteste’s scientific work from very different angles, and this allows for an all-around and in-depth elucidation of his writings. That medievalists contribute to our understanding of medieval science seems straightforward and not a subject of debate. However, doubts are more likely to be raised about whether modern scientists can add anything useful at all in this endeavour.  Like many others who first hear about the Ordered Universe Project I was having these very doubts before joining the group during the FIDEM congress. Continue reading

De colore – impressions from a first-time, non-medieval, reader

I started my reading about Grosseteste and his scientific works with ‘The Dimensions of Colour’ on the De colore. Although when reading the translation I couldn’t picture Grosseteste’s model in my head, I was baffled by its complexity and sophistication. Such an abstract account of the phenomenon of colour was certainly not what I expected from a medieval scholar and theologian, who later in his life even became bishop. Furthermore, I found that the critical edition and translation broadened my horizon not only with respect to the content of the treatise, but also concerning the challenge of establishing in the first place what the original content was. As I said, I know embarrassingly little about history and the methods involved in the discipline, and it was very interesting to see how the multitude of diverging manuscripts can be a caveat to appreciating the coherence of medieval scientific thought. Continue reading

The Grosseteste Project and being involved as a student

My name is Ulrike, and I just finished the second year of my undergraduate degree in Psychology with Philosophy at Oxford. The first time I heard about the Grosseteste project was at a drinks reception we had with our College tutors. We asked Hannah about the various research strands she is involved in, and it came as a surprise to hear about an interdisciplinary group of scholars and scientists who interpret the scientific writings of a medieval philosopher and theologian. That out of all my tutors, the perception expert would collaborate with experts from the humanities was all the more unexpected, given that perception is probably at the very hardcore science end of the psychology spectrum. I remember asking tentatively what the point of such a joint project would be, (I really hope I found a more subtle way of saying this back then). I don’t trust my memory enough to now quote Hannah’s answer, and I’m sure you are familiar with it anyway. If not, I definitely recommend asking her about it because it was certainly very interesting. Back then, I was definitely very intrigued by this approach of doing both history and science in symbiosis. However, I couldn’t quite picture how this would actually work, and how fruitful the conclusions drawn would be for either field. Continue reading