News in Brief, Michaelmas 2017

Mathematical guest

Cezar Ionescu, Director of Studies for Maths and Computing, will have an academic guest, Professor Paul Flondor from the Polytechnical University of Bucharest, visiting from the 28th of September to the 10th of October.  The visit will be paid for by a John Fell Fund grant. They will be working on ‘generic representations of uncertainty’.

About the research topic, Cezar said: ‘Complex mathematical models, especially those involved in interdisciplinary research, have to deal with several types of uncertainty.  There is the stochastic type, usually related to forecasting (what is the probability of a given event?).  There is the imprecision of human language (adjectives such as ‘warm’, ‘fast’, etc.).  There are errors related to data (for example, measurement errors).  Then, there are uncertainties introduced by the limits of representing data with machine numbers, such as floating-point numbers.  That means that the result of a computation is almost never the "real" result, but only an approximation of it, and very few models today tell us how good or how bad this approximation is.  We can do better, but this involves combining uncertainty of all these different types.  The challenge we set ourselves is to define and implement representations of uncertainty that allow us to perform these combinations flexibly and efficiently, thus enabling the creation and implementation of mathematical models that come with guarantees regarding the uncertainties of their results, with the potential of opening up avenues for research in reliable modelling.’

Human Rights Juror

Nazila Ghanea, Associate Professor in International Human Rights Law, was juror for a European Commission human rights prize. The 2017 Lorenzo Natali Media Prize is awarded to one amateur and one professional journalist for outstanding reporting on development, poverty eradication and freedom of religion from each of the following regions: Africa; the Arab World and the Middle East; Asia and the Pacific; Latin America and the Caribbean; and Europe. The Award Ceremony took place in Brussels during the European Development Days (EDD) on 7 June. 

Migration studies

Martin Ruhs, Associate Professor of Political Economy, and our Director of Studies in Economics, has been offered a five-year position as a Professor at the European University Institute in Florence, starting in January 2018, after which he will return to Oxford. While in Florence, Martin will hold a Chair in Migration Studies and serve as Deputy Director of the Institute’s Migration Policy Centre (MPC). The MPC conducts advanced policy-oriented research on global migration, asylum and mobility.

20 Years for Foundation History, 10 for International Politics

2017 marks the 20th anniversary of our Foundation Certificate in History, which was launched in September 1997. The Foundation Certificate has taught approximately 180 students since its founding, over half of whom have transferred to study a full-time degree at Oxford colleges or entered full or part-time degree courses at other universities. Said Christine Jackson, co-director of the course, ‘Many students who start with the Foundation course progress beyond undergraduate studies to Masters courses and some to DPhils and PhDs. Some have published history books – and some are now teaching the next generation of history undergraduates.’

2017 also marks the 10th anniversary of the International Politics Summer School, held each summer at St Antony’s College, Oxford.

Philosophy podcasts hit the top slots again

Director of Studies in Philosophy Marianne Talbot’s iTunes U podcast series hit the number one and two spots again over the summer. The talks are available on Oxford’s podcasts website.

Oxfordshire Landscapes Conference

The Society for Landscape Studies is holding its Autumn Conference, “From the Cotswolds to the Chilterns: the historic landscapes of Oxfordshire” on Saturday 21 October 2017 at St Anne's College, Oxford. Speakers include Departmental tutors Trevor Rowley and David Clark. Full schedule and registration form are online.

Rothermere American Institute

Associate Professor in English Literature and Creative Writing Tara Stubbs will serve as the Academic Programme Director of the Rothermere American Institute (RAI) for the next two years. “Our students might be interested in hearing more about the RAI as it has lots of interesting public events (all or most of which are free). As part of my role I hope to organise more public-facing events and to encourage more of our Continuing Education students to attend them. Events are multi-disciplinary, and this year we have seminars and readings in American Literature, History, History of Art and Politics.

The Rothermere American Institute is on Parks Road and is known as 'America's Home in Oxford'. Upcoming talks will be published on their website.



Published 18 September 2017