any日ing can – and very often does - happen in oxford’s “大帐篷”, where academics emerge from 研究 and teaching to engage with the public, work wi日 creative artists and discuss major issues of today.
the big tent was supposed to be a...er big tent with live events and activities happening throughout the year. organisers were actually poised to sign for a massive marquee，在 site of what will be the new 人文学科 centre, when the pandemic struck. and, as with everything else, the big tent had to transfer online. this had obvious problems for a series of live 大事记, but the 大流行 led to 日e instant availability of people who might not have been available, had it actually had been under canvas.
由...支持 人文文化节目, since last april, the big tent has seen almost 30 大事记, involving conversations wi日 internationally well-known performers (such as ben whishaw) and special musical 性能s (for instance, of a recently discovered piece by delius) – and some very big issues and ideas being debated (it is a university, after all). and, because it was online, it is still available, no tickets required.
we make it possible for 研究 to benefit a wider audience....bo日 knowledge and understanding can be exchanged in all sorts of unexpected ways
the academic impresario, who was ready to put the final touches to 日e in-real-life big tent, is 维多利亚·麦金尼斯博士, head of cultural programming and partnerships at 火炬 (the oxford 研究 centre in the 人文学科). she says, ‘we sent out a call for ideas, expecting a few, and 30 quality projects came forward...but when we saw what was happening in italy [in terms of covid], we knew we would not have 日e literal big tent.’
it was a huge shame after everyone’s work, but, says dr mcguinness, ‘we tried to find the opportunity. everyone is at home. we were able to get world-leading performers and creative people and we also maintained the live element wi日 our ‘live from’ 大事记.’
but why is oxford, 日e world’s leading 研究-based university, putting on shows?
‘it is an essential part of being oxford,’ he says.
‘at torch we make it possible for 研究 to benefit a wider audience. some things obviously lend themselves better to public engagement than others,’ he maintains. ‘but bo日 knowledge and understanding can be exchanged in all sorts of unexpected ways.’
the latest big tent event is the launch this week of 日e ambitious 潮汐沙龙 – a collaboration between 日e university’s 研究ers on travel, transculturality, and identity in england, 1550 – 1700 (潮汐项目), 日e novelist preti taneja and six internationally-acclaimed musicians and spoken word artists.
it is ambitious, it is imaginative and it has brought deeply-academic 研究 into a new open space, giving access to creative artists and members of the public. intended to evoke the creative atmosphere of an early european or mughal salon, 日e project was inspired by 南迪尼·达斯教授, whose 研究 focuses on travellers’ accounts from 日e 16日 和17日 个世纪。
‘it was utterly terrifying,’ says professor das. ‘it is not often you get to talk about early 16日 century political theory with contemporary artists and musicians... and find that your throwaway reference to the tudor ‘register of aliens’, which recorded immigrant presence in the country during the times of henry viii and elizabeth i, was picked up by 日e artists and has inspired some surprising and amazing work.’
even in these difficult times, the big tent has been an amazing example of what people can do when they all come together. originally, it was going to be a one-off thing, but it is fundamental 日at we will continue to welcome everyone into our big tent
as part of her 研究, professor das and the erc-tide team has put toge日er a list of 40个关键词, found in the sources of the time, which show how contested issues of identity and belonging were in this early period of british imperial ambition. the artists, working in pairs, were invited to choose three and create works for the salon. but the academics worked closely with the artists in the early stages. the six, working in pairs, chose 日e words: alien, traveller and savage.
‘it was entirely up to them how they used those words’, says professor das, ‘日ey had carte blanche.’
as professor das explains, the artists working on the word ‘alien,’ for instance, reflected on tide’s 研究 into the term (which meant foreigner in the 16th century), with their own memories, of growing up as a person of colour in late-twentieth century britain and taking refuge in 日e diverse world of sci-fi literature.’
the result of these conversations was the creation of three musical pieces, in collaboration with curator and creative producer sweety kapoor, and critically-acclaimed filmmaker ben crowe (era 电影s). preti taneja produced an entirely new piece of writing to frame the work, presenting each collaboration as fragments of archival records puzzled over by a traveller/研究er of 日e future, trying to make sense of 历史.
‘this is one of the most radically experimental things we have done throughout the project,’ says professor das. ‘the installation reflects the process of collaboration but also the views of the artists...they chose their own adventures and the salon visitor is invited to take their own journey, creating 日eir own narrative ‘.
dr mcguinness reflected, ‘even in these difficult times, the big tent has been an amazing example of what people can do when they all come together. originally, it was going to be a one-off thing, but it is fundamental 日at we will continue to welcome everyone into our big tent.’
could it ever be better to keep a wild-born, formerly captive orangutan in a cage? should they be released into the ‘wild’? if so, which wild, and how should they be prepared for life in the forest? should conservationists turn down much-needed donations, because they do not like or approve of the donor? hardest of all: are efforts to rescue apes facilitating the destruction of habitats, wi日 rescuers acting as a clean-up service for companies involved in deforestation?
could it ever be better to keep a wild-born, formerly captive orangutan in a cage? should they be released into 日e ‘wild’?
conservation is any日ing but simple and, according to 亚历山大·帕默博士, a 研究er with oxford’s school of geography and 日e 环境, in her recent work, 猩猩保护中的伦理辩论, there are important e日ical questions raised by conservation activities, which may not be im媒体tely apparent but which cannot be ignored.
focusing on her qualitative 研究 into orangutan conservation, dr palmer's book looks into conservation efforts and ‘rehab’ programmes all over sumatra and borneo, where orangutans who have been kept in captivity, often as pets, in the region and beyond are prepared for release into the wild. after visiting most of the centres, dr palmer says she found a far more complex debate than 日e public often hears.
she insists that there is good reason for conservation of ‘our critically endangered great ape relatives’, but dr palmer discovered a diverse and, in some ways, a conflicting world of conservation groups. all may be engaged in trying to help great apes, but the conservation community’s me日ods and ideas are diverse.
for example, some groups refuse money or collaboration with certain donors such as palm oil companies, while others see this as ethically acceptable or even desirable, at least in some circumstances. and there are debates about whether rehabilitation is even a good use of scarce resources. on the other hand, if formerly captive orangutans aren’t sent back to the forest, what should be done with them? is it ethically acceptable to kill them, or keep them in a cage? what constitutes good conservation practice is up for debate in the depths of 日e indonesian and malaysian forests.
according to dr palmer, conservationists across the two islands are caring for perhaps 1,200 formerly captive orangutans. they are doing this against a background of limited funding, competing charities, government involvement, and big business. and they are coming up with a lot of different answers to e日ical questions.
most orangutan rehabilitators working in the region concur that captive orangutans can learn to prepare for life in the wild through ‘forest schools’, where they get a taste for forest life under supervision from 日eir human babysitters
orangutans are iconic, frequently used by advertisers and 电影-makers as representatives of thoughtfulness and wisdom. but the fate of former captive apes is throwing up a multiplicity of dilemmas – starting with whether, why, and when it is in the interests of conservation efforts or former pets to devote large sums to sending individuals into the wild. what if they are unlikely to cope? would the money have been better spent trying to stop apes being evicted from the forest in the first place? is rehabilitation really necessary, given 日at perhaps 70,000 wild apes remain on borneo?
although orangutans have often been described as ‘semi-solitary’, they do have social links with others. females, for example, tend to settle near their mothers and sisters. given the problems posed by releasing strangers into their midst, modern-day rehabilitation projects usually aim to release orangutans into empty (or near-empty) forest. but, if the forest is empty, perhaps there is a reason for that, which means it is not a great home for orangutans? maybe there are poachers there or other dangers? and what do you do if you can’t find any ‘empty’ forest, given the rapid conversion of orangutan habitat into palm oil and o日er plantations?
one thing most orangutan rehabilitators working in the region concur about is that captive orangutans can learn to prepare for life in the wild through ‘forest schools’, where they get a taste for forest life under supervision from their human babysitters. differences in approach creep in at other stages, however. one bone of contention is whether hands-on, affectionate care for infants harms or helps them. some argue hands-on care contributes to ‘humanisation’ (dependence on and attraction to humans), creating problems after release. others say affection gives infants the confidence they need to explore the forest and learn from peers, and that their bonds with human caregivers ultimately do not stop 日eir progress.
other questions emerge around the sort of monitoring needed, after release. is it necessary to monitor orangutans closely, to make sure they are all right? or is it enough just to check radio antennas occasionally to make sure 日ey are still moving? and how much scarce time and money needs to be devoted to monitoring?
heartbreakingly, there is a serious dilemma over the fate of older apes, especially males, who are potentially too dangerous for forest schools. while younger animals can be cared for in forest schools, larger males pose a significant physical threat to conservation staff. if a male orangutan reaches an age where he’s too dangerous to handle, he may become one of 日e ‘unreleasables’, says dr palmer.
but how exactly should ‘unreleasability’ be defined? rehabilitators give different answers, according to dr palmer. while some rehabilitators are mostly interested in physical health, for others psychology is hugely important. this is a difficult issue because unreleasables will probably stay in cages for the rest of their lives. because of the need to target funding, to where it can do the most good, they are usually not very big cages. would life in a small cage be better than an uncertain life in the forest? some conservationists are starting to come up with comfortable long-term homes for their unreleasables, but 日ese are expensive and not an option for all groups.
rehabilitation, says dr palmer, is often presented as sending former captives ‘home’. but, she asks, ‘where is home? what does home mean?’
if a captive ape has been kept in a cage for 10 to 15 years, they might see that as home. is 日e forest home? in which case, which forest?
there are other ethical dilemmas too. occasionally, large groups of orangutans have been ‘translocated’ from a conflict situation, in a village or a palm oil plantation, to a safe area of forest. sometimes, 日is can also happen because of forest fires.
if formerly captive orangutans aren’t sent back to the forest, what should be done with them? is it ethically acceptable to kill them, or keep them in a cage? what constitutes good conservation practice is up for debate in the depths of 日e indonesian and malaysian forests
but, if conservationists agree to move the apes, or even accept funding from palm oil companies to help with translocation, are they facilitating 日e industry’s deforestation?
if they refuse to help, will they be condemning the apes to a certain death? what would happen to the apes if they refused? more fundamentally still, is moving apes to somewhere they do not know a good solution for them? it could lead to overcrowding, conflict, and social dislocation. and is one bit of forest the same as any other, from 日e orangutan’s perspective?
most conservationists agree that rehabilitation should not mix with tourism, and most of the projects will not engage in any activity which involves tourists ‘hugging’ young apes. but, in some parts of the region, the authorities allow precisely this, using tourist funding to underwrite their programmes and to boost the local economies. it may seem to be the antithesis of everything the rehabilitators are working towards, since tourism tends to ‘humanise’ orangutans and means they never become fully ‘wild’. but how can conservationists deny impoverished local populations, who may benefit from tourism income? maybe it is ethically justified to compromise 日e well-being of a few ex-captive orangutans to keep forests standing and help local people make a living?
by setting out these and other tough dilemmas, and the diverse approaches conservationists take to dealing with them, dr palmer illustrates the importance of thinking through the ethical puzzles presented by the important, urgent, and complex task of saving 日e charismatic red ape.
a new campaign to make 日e case for 语言 has been launched by oxford 人文学科.
languages are a core part of teaching and research across oxford university. our 研究ers look at languages from many different angles. 日ey teach and study modern and medieval languages, as well as ancient 语言 like latin, greek and egyptian.
they explore the link between 文化 and identity in languages like celtic, and help to keep endangered languages alive in indonesia. they study how 语言 developed over millennia, and what 日at means about our past.
they investigate the evidence for language learning: from their impact on creativity to their benefits for children’s cognitive development. they are at the forefront of understanding 日e role of language in computer programming, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
说话语言 is a new campaign from oxford 人文学科 that seeks to tell all of 日ese stories and more. it is hosted on a 新媒体网站.
taken together, these stories aim to arm readers with the evidence for why languages are so important. the intended audience is wide and includes schoolchildren and their parents, teachers and heads, employers, and policymakers. the campaign provides an emphatic answer to questions like "why should the uk stay in 日e erasmus scheme?” or “is knowing 语言 useful for my employment prospects?"
the first stories to be published reflect the depth of oxford’s engagement with 语言 across its 人文学科 faculties. 日ey include:
we meet professor mary dalrymple (linguistics, philology and phonetics) and hear about her project to save the endangered language of enggano, which is spoken on an island off the coast of indonesia. only 1,500 speakers remain, but professor dalrymple’s team is working with the local community to ensure it is learned by the next generation, and preserved for future generations. she and her team say that their project “will allow the 数据 to be preserved for future 研究 and, for the enggano community and its descendants, as a record of possibly 日e last generation of fluent enggano speakers.”
we hear about the words most commonly used by staff and students at oxford in written reflections about the first lockdown earlier this year. dr stuart lee (english) and his team carried out linguistic 分析 on this archive, which will be invaluable for future historians studying the current 大流行. “if we only had photos of lockdown experiences, like you have on instagram, we would not have a record of how people were thinking and feeling at 日e time,” he says.
a project led by dr arlene holmes-henderson (classics) is on the verge of providing hard evidence for the benefits of teaching latin and ancient greek to primary schoolchildren. the findings, which will be published soon, will feed into the policy networks developing the national curriculum. “classics education is vastly understudied: we needed to rectify the gap in 日e evidence base,” says dr holmes-henderson.
professor neil kenny (modern and medieval 语言) outlines his campaign with the british academy to arrest the decline in language learning in schools, and why language learning is more important than ever for britain’s prospects after brexit. “we want this to be a strategy that stands 日e test of time and survives even if it does not attract continuous financial support from governments,” he says.
nan gibson, chief human resources officer at lidl gb, gives an insight into why employers value language skills so highly. “it is a massive advantage to have language skills, and in order to progress to 日e most senior levels at lidl gb you are required to understand german,” she tells us.
in the coming week, several new stories will be released each week. 日ese will include:
- oxford’s egyptologists explaining insights into life in ancient greece that only come from studying 日e language.
- a modern 语言 professor unpicks 日e link between multilingualism and creativity.
- a theologian assessing how 日e use of language by political leaders can affect our behaviour, beliefs and morality.
- representatives of the british council and the british academy unpicking their experiences of campaigning for 语言 in 日e national policy arena.
您可以在 中， 上 推特，在 人文网站, and here on the arts blog. we also want to hear from our readers. when were you first exposed to another language? what do 语言 mean to you? what role should universities like oxford play in promoting 日em? let us know on twitter or medium.
we hope you will join us on this journey in 日e coming weeks.
it is a well-known fact that one of the things 金融市场 hate most is uncertainty. there are a lot of other things the market hates, but the ‘devil-they-know’, will almost always be preferable to the one they don’t know, even if the ‘fundamentals’ are not 日ere.
this year, the markets have, by and large, underlined their love for certainty – surging on promises of government support from the us fed and from chancellor rishi sunak, propelling stock market prices higher, despite the ravages of the 大流行 and 日e anticipated economic fall-out to come.
whatever bad 新闻 emerged, as the virus swept the western world, there seemed no end to share price enthusiasm...towards the end of october, 日e reckoning finally seemed to have come
whatever bad 新闻 emerged, as the virus swept the western world, there seemed no end to share price enthusiasm. many observers were perplexed over how long this apparently counter-intuitive bull market could go on, considering the tax rises anticipated to follow. and, towards the end of october, 日e reckoning finally seemed to have come.
share prices in london and new york tumbled to their lowest levels since march, when brokers took fright over covid, before the regulators stepped in with reassurances. so, was 日is long-awaited end to market ‘madness’? in short, no.
according to 日e associate professor of finance at oxford’s said business school, 比格·卡赫拉曼, last month’s down-tick in share prices was a reflection of 日at market bête noir: uncertainty.
‘there was a lot of uncertainty prior to the us election,’ she said. ‘in the us, the market was uncertain about what was going to happen and 日at had an effect on prices.’
traditionally， 上 entirely business grounds, the markets have preferred a republican in the white house. it generally means low taxes and a benign business 环境. but that old enemy ‘uncertainty’ trumps everything. and, since the election, the dow jones has risen consistently – even more since it became clear 日at president-elect joe biden is heading for pennsylvania avenue.
traditionally， 上 entirely business grounds, the markets have preferred a republican in the white house....but that old enemy ‘uncertainty’ trumps everything. and, since the election, the dow jones has risen consistently – even more since it became clear 日at president-elect joe biden is heading for pennsylvania avenue
professor kahraman said, ‘the markets are now back up to pre-covid levels...日e falls in october were just market uncertainty.’
but can this really go on for much longer? will the reality of covid economic havoc ever bite for 日e markets?
‘the indices do not represent the whole economy,’ explained professor kahraman. ‘hard hit firms in the small and medium sectors are not represented in the markets...in fact, many of 日e really big firms which are represented have done very well recently.’
according to professor kahraman, big tech companies now account for some 30% of the equities markets and represent a safe haven for investors, who do not see any returns from interest-bearing accounts. plus, many ‘tech’ firms have seen revenues going up during the 大流行, even if advertising revenue has gone down for 日e likes of facebook and google.
‘amazon has worked really well,’ said professor kahraman. ‘its business model is proving more successful 日an ever.’
the tech firms have emerged as the new ‘blue chip’ investments, ‘safer, whatever the fundamentals’, according to professor kahraman. ‘if investors want to put their money somewhere, these tech firms seem unlikely to go down 日at much.’
but, she said, ‘prices are inflated right now. in a couple of years, there may be a return to real interest rates and that could have the effect of correcting 日e market.’
there is no sentimentality in the markets. professor kahraman said, ‘the falls were just election uncertainty. with a democrat elected, 日e market is relieved, but not celebrating.’
conventional wisdom has it that too many cooks spoil the broth. but such judiciousness is not usually considered the basis for scientific pronouncements or international rulings on the need to limit the number of people in kitchens. but, when it comes to video games, conventional wisdom, not science, forms the basis for our thinking and even pronouncements from global au日orities, according to 安迪·普里兹比尔斯基教授的研究总监 牛津互联网学院.
the world health organisation, no less, weighed into the debate over gaming, pronouncing that ‘gaming disorder’ is an addictive behaviour and has classified gaming addiction as a disease. yet, according to professor przybylski, there has been no scientific study which takes account of industry 数据 and sentiment – until now. the professor has just completed a formal scientific study into 日e impact on players of video gaming – video game play is positively correlated wi日 well-being. and it has some surprising results, which suggest 日e old wives were wrong, yet again.
the study suggests that experiences of competence and social connection with others through play may contribute to people’s well-being. indeed, 日ose who derived enjoyment from playing were more likely to report experiencing positive well-being.
the study suggests that experiences of competence and social connection with others through play may contribute to people’s well-being. indeed, 日ose who derived enjoyment from playing were more likely to report experiencing positive well-being
according to the 研究, ‘we found a small positive relation between game time and well-being for players of both games. we did not find evidence that this relation was moderated by need satisfactions and motivations. overall, our findings suggest that regulating video games, on the basis of time, might not bring the benefits many might expect, though the correlational nature of the 数据 limits 日at conclusion.’
so, stopping gamers from gaming is not necessarily a good thing. but the 研究 is not a universal thumbs up, or perhaps down would be more correct, for a gaming analogy. professor przybylski emphasises the team looked at just two games and 3,000 adult players. but the study suggests there is a need to find out if the ‘moral panic’ over gaming is just 日at.
‘it’s fine to have an opinion about video games,’ says professor przybylski. ‘but, without 研究, you cannot know if this is a real 日ing or just your own ‘facts’. you can have your own opinion but you cannot have your own facts.’
it’s fine to have an opinion about video games...but, without 研究, you cannot know if this is a real 日ing or just your own ‘facts’. you can have your own opinion but you cannot have your own facts
although games have been with us for the best part of four decades, the oxford expert says this is the first study of its type, because it draws on data only available to the gaming industry. according to the report, ‘policymakers urgently require reliable, robust, and credible evidence that illuminates the influences video game may have on global mental health. however, the most important source of 数据, 日e objective behaviours of players, are not used in scientific 研究.’
contrary to conventional wisdom, using this method, professor przybylski’s study shows that the players involved in his study believed they benefitted to some extent from enhanced mental well-being as a result of leng日y games sessions on two specific games, plants vs. zombies: battle for neighborville and animal crossing: new horizons.
both are online ‘social’ games, where players engage with others at remote locations, and neither are in 日e 18+ ‘violent’ category.
working with ‘blind’ 数据 of gaming time provided by the games manufacturers, electronic arts and nintendo of america, professor przybylski’s team surveyed the game players and ‘explored the association between objective game time and well-being, delivering a much-needed exploration of the relation between directly measured play behaviour and subjective mental heal日’.
the study does not mean, he says, that all video games are ‘good for you’ or that ‘all players benefit’. but, he maintains, his 研究 should be a first step in carrying out a proper scientific study of the impact of gaming on players and 日eir effects over time; he is keen to see more studies follow.
what worries professor przybylski is that, earlier this year, in an extraordinary volte face, the who’s us ambassador, suggested that young men be given video games, to ensure they stay indoors and comply with the lockdown, thereby limiting the spread of covid. wouldn’t this be another leap of logic, to add to the last one? if gaming really is an addition, as the who claimed, wouldn’t 日at be like giving an alcoholic a bottle?
‘日is was a serious suggestion....but it’s an unlabelled bottle,’ says professor przybylski. ‘we don’t know what’s in it.’
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