Race and the Curriculum in Oxford Lecture Series | University of Oxford

Race and the Curriculum in Oxford Lecture Series

The Race and the Curriculum Lecture Series highlighted a current project within the University to diversify the curriculum across the humanities, sciences and social sciences. Across the three lectures, the speakers brought expertise of alternative perspectives of curriculum, and of leading cultural change within global higher education institutions.

Lecture 3

Redefining America: Confronting the Legacy of Slavery and Injustice

Wednesday 2 November 2016
Mathematical Institute - Andrew Wiles Building, Oxford

Speaker: Professor Ruth J. Simmons, President emerita, Brown University


One hundred and fifty three years after Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, the United States remains mired in a debate about how to relate and judge the reality and consequences of American slavery. The Black Lives Matter movement, ongoing racial discrimination and recent investigations of institutional ties to the slave trade, have once again placed in focus the unfinished work of post-civil war efforts to ensure the inclusion of slave descendants into mainstream civic and economic life. This lecture discussed recent truth and reconciliation efforts and showcased examples of how US universities are engaging with renewed activism, that is insisting that all institutions come to terms with legacies of injustice.

Biography of Professor Ruth J. Simmons

Ruth J. Simmons was President of Brown University from 2001-2012. Under her leadership, Brown made significant strides in improving its standing as one of the world’s finest research universities.

A French professor before entering university administration, President Simmons held an appointment as a Professor of Africana Studies at Brown. After completing her Ph.D. in Romance Languages and literatures at Harvard, she served in various faculty and administrative roles at the University of Southern California, Princeton University, and Spelman College before becoming president of Smith College, the largest women’s college in the United States. At Smith, she launched a number of important academic initiatives, including an engineering program, the first at an American women’s college.

Simmons is the recipient of many honours, including a Fulbright Fellowship to France, the 2001 President’s Award from the United Negro College Fund, the 2002 Fulbright Lifetime Achievement Medal, the 2004 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal, the Foreign Policy Association Medal, the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and the Centennial Medal from Harvard University. Simmons is a member of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, and the Council on Foreign Relations, and serves on the boards of Texas Instruments, Chrysler, Mondelez and Square, as well as a number of non-profit boards. Awarded numerous honorary degrees, she received the Brown Faculty’s highest honour: the Susan Colver Rosenberger Medal in 2011. In 2012, she was named a ‘chevalier’ of the French Legion of Honour.

Lecture 2

The Internal Emigrant: or, Who is at Home in the Humanities?

Professor Homi BhabhaProfessor Homi Bhabha

Credit: Stephanie Mitchell

Wednesday 27 April 2016 
Mathematical Institute - Andrew Wiles Building, Oxford

Speaker: Professor Homi Bhabha 
Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, and the Director of the Humanities Center at Harvard University

Professor Bhabha has been, for over two decades, a leading figure in contemporary postcolonial studies and in the investigation of identity and alterity. He has developed key concepts in the field, including hybridity, mimicry, difference, and ambivalence, all framed as ways in which oppressed peoples resist and have resisted colonial power.

In this lecture, Professor Bhabha explored questions of alterity, displacement and the racialized body in globalisation, and considered, amongst others, Toni Morrison, J.M. Coetzee, and Hannah Arendt.

Inaugural Lecture:

Britain’s Black Debt: Reparatory Justice and the Restoration of ‘moral nation status’

Tuesday 26 January 2016, Oxford Martin School

Speaker: Professor Sir Hilary Beckles, Vice-Chancellor of the University of the West Indies


Professor Sir Hilary Beckles’ Lecture and Q&A Discussion

Biography of Professor Sir Hilary Beckles

Before assuming the office of Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies on May 1, 2015, Professor Sir Hilary was Principal and Pro Vice-Chancellor of The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados for thirteen years. Sir Hilary has emerged as a distinguished university administrator, internationally reputed Economic Historian, and transformational leader in higher education.

He is Vice President of the International Task force for the UNESCO Slave Route Project; a consultant for the UNESCO Cities for Peace Global Programme; and in 2014 was appointed by the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-Moon, to his inaugural United Nations Secretary-General’s Scientific Advisory Board on sustainable development.

Sir Hilary is, in addition, a respected playwright and member of the theatre community. Eight of his plays have been staged to popular acclaim. In the corporate community his footprint is well established. He is a long serving director of Sagicor Financial Corporation, and has served as a director of its principal subsidiaries Sagicor Jamaica Ltd, and Sagicor Barbados Ltd. He is a director of Cable and Wireless Barbados Ltd, and is Chairman of The University of the West Indies Press. Sir Hilary received his higher education in the United Kingdom and graduated with a BA (Hons) degree in Economic and Social History from Hull University in 1976, and a PhD from the same university in 1980.

Sir Hilary was made a Commander Knight of St Andrew (KA), Barbados’ highest honour, in recognition of his distinguished service in the field of education, in particular at university level, and his dedication to the furtherance of the arts and sport. He has lectured extensively in Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas and has published more than ten academic books.

He is Chairman of the Caribbean Community [CARICOM] Commission on Reparation and Social Justice. Sir Hilary is Founder and Director of the CLR James Centre for Cricket Research at Cave Hill Campus, and a former member of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB). He is Founder and inaugural Chairman of the Sagicor High Performance Cricket Academy of the WICB. He is also Vice President of the Commonwealth Sports Ministers advisory body on Sport and Development. He is an Editor of UNESCO’s General History of Africa, and has conceptualised the "Global Africa" theme for this series.