With a population of only 35 million, Canada boasts remarkably strong connections to Oxford. Our relationship is anchored in our people: students, academics, and alumni. The connection between Oxford and Canada also includes a number of vibrant research collaborations and a large branch of Oxford University Press.
Oxford has formal ties with the University of British Columbia (UBC) through its sister colleges, Green College at UBC and Green Templeton College at Oxford, both of which were partly funded by gifts from Dr Cecil Green, founder of Texas Instruments.
OUP Canada, founded in 1904, was the second OUP office to be established outside the UK and has its head office in Toronto. Its first Canadian title, The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse, was published in 1913. In addition to making available all OUP publications from the UK, the US, and other branches to Canada, the office also publishes materials within Canada itself. There are over 1,000 Canadian titles in print and approximately 100 new titles are published annually.
The study of Canada is mainly focused in the recently established North American studies programme at St Antony’s College. The programme was launched with funding from Canadian donors including IDRC (International Development Research Centre) who will also fund a two-year postdoctoral fellowship for a specialist in the Caribbean, Mexico or Central America. In this programme, Canada is studied in its regional context, a unique approach given that the countries on the North American continent tend to be studied individually.
Politics and International Relations
In the Department of Politics and International Relations (DPIR), Professor Jennifer Welsh is a specialist in Canadian Foreign Policy. Amongst other, numerous publications, she has co-edited with Professor Ngaire Woods Exporting Good Governance: Temptations and Challenges in Canada’s Aid Program (2007). Professor Welsh’s book At Home in the World: Canada’s Global Vision for the 21st Century (2004) was nominated for the Annual Canadian Political Science Association 2005 book of the year.
Oxford University Centre for the Environment
Academics and graduate students in the Oxford University Centre for the Environment (OUCE) are studying Canada including the environmental sciences in the Canadian Arctic, responsible corporate engagement and property investment in Canada, and the interaction between the Inuit and researchers in the northern Nunavut Territory.
Researchers at the Biodiversity Institute in the Oxford Martin School have been using time lapse photography to monitor difficult to reach alpine and polar environments. Dr. Marc Macias Fauria plans to place four time lapse cameras high in the altitudinal tree line area of the Canadian Rockies, some 2,000 metres above sea level, thus setting up a network of snow gauges to greatly enrich the sparse amount of data that is available on the area due to the difficult conditions. Data including images, snow depth information, temperature and other environmental variables will be retrieved remotely and processed in Oxford.
Internships in Canada
For those students who do not study Canada as an aspect of their course or research, there is an opportunity to come to know the region through the Oxford University International Internships Programme (OUIIP), which provides students with the opportunity to spend the long vacation learning new skills in a new country. One of the very first placements offered in the first year of the scheme was a research internship at the University of Toronto.
Oxford academics work collaboratively with their Canadian colleagues across a broad range of disciplines. In all of Oxford’s published research, Canada provides the 6th largest concentration of Oxford international co-authors. The University of Toronto is the University’s second most frequent international collaborator and McGill University in Montreal is 10th.
Free Access to Genetic Structures
The Structural Genomics Consortium is a public-private partnership led by Oxford and the University of Toronto, along with the Karolinska Institute, Sweden. It is a not-for-profit organization that aims to determine the three-dimensional structures of proteins of medical relevance, and place them in the public domain without restriction for anybody to access and use in their medical research with the aim of enabling new drug discoveries.
During the first phase of the project, more than 450 protein structures were deposited in the Protein Data Bank. In its second funding phase SGC aims to determine more than 650 new structures. The project focuses on proteins with relevance to human health comprising proteins associated with diabetes, cancer, genetic and epigenetic disease as well as with infectious diseases such as malaria.
Early Animal Life
Oxford’s research links with Canada do not just focus on the future, but also on the distant past. Researchers at Oxford’s Department of Earth Sciences are working with colleagues from Memorial University of Newfoundland on the nature of the earliest animals from the Proterozoic to Cambrian periods. The Oxford group, who work with Dr Duncan McIlroy at Memorial, frequently visit Newfoundland’s Ediacaran successions where a huge ash cloud from a volcanic eruption preserved some of the earliest examples of animal life on earth.
Investigating Icy Seas
In earth sciences, Oxford scientists have boarded two Canadian coastguard vessels in the far northern regions of Canada, an area which is extremely difficult to travel to due to ice conditions, strong winds and fog. The team is measuring freshwater levels in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Along with the ship’s crew who are almost all Canadian, the expedition includes scientists and technicians from the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Canada.
Entangled Diamonds and Quantum Computers
Researchers from Clarendon Laboratory at Oxford University and from the National Research Council of Canada in collaboration with the National University of Singapore investigated the quantum state of ‘entanglement’. In particular, in December 2011 the team reported that they had managed to recreate the state between two separated diamonds at room temperature, a feat never before achieved outside of a climate at absolute zero and previously thought to be unobservable in those conditions. This early result could go on to have important consequences for quantum computing, communications and electronic encryption.
In June 2012, a team led by Simon Fraser University, Canada and featuring scientists from Oxford’s Department of Materials announced that it had managed to sustain this quantum state, this time in the material silicon, for a total three minutes and 12 seconds, over 100 times longer than the record of 1.75 seconds previously achieved. Given that silicon hosts most modern computing, the prospect that the same material might enable quantum computing could have major implications for future computing.
Neuroscience partnership offers increased funding for ageing and brain diseases
Oxford's award-winning neuroscience collaboration with McGill University, extended in June 2013 to include the Zentrum Für Neurowissenschaften (ZNZ) Zurich, supports ground-breaking work in Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, psychiatric diseases, multiple sclerosis, cognition, chronobiology, neuroplasticity and pain.The partnership, established in 2009, was awarded Canada's prestigious McCarthy Tétrault Award of Excellence for Partnership in 2012. The research programme brings together world-class neuroscientists at McGill, Oxford and Zurich in collaborative programmes of research in both the basic and clinical neurosciences. It provides an unprecedented opportunity to enhance human health, particularly in neurological and psychiatric disorders.
Canadian Funding for Oxford Research
Research at Oxford is also supported by a number of prominent Canadian funding bodies. The Lupina Foundation supports a research study in the Department of Psychiatry into the efficacy of mindfulness based cognitive therapy in the treatment of severe health anxiety (the persistent fear or belief that one has a serious, undiagnosed medical illness).
In addition to their funding of the Oxford North American studies programme, the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) in Canada has supported two initiatives in the Department of Politics and International Relations: The Global Economic Governance (GEG) Programme which supports research and fosters debate into how global markets and institutions can better serve the needs of people in developing countries, and the Human Development and Capability Network led by Dr Sabina Alkire in the Department of International Development. This Network promotes multidisciplinary research on problems related to impoverishment, justice and well-being, and has more than 700 members across 70 countries.
Canada is the 4th largest source of international students at Oxford. There are over 400 Canadians studying at Oxford, a 21% increase on 2007. The overwhelming majority – 87% – are postgraduates with the largest group – almost half – studying social sciences, and nearly a quarter (28%) studying the humanities. Canadian students wishing to pursue their graduate studies at Oxford have access to a range of scholarships to support them. The Clarendon Scholarships, created by Oxford University Press to support graduate students, are open to applicants from all countries. Clarendon disburses approximately £7.5 million to support about 300 students annually.
In addition to scholarships open to all international students, Canadians can also apply to Oxford’s prestigious Rhodes Scholarships which are awarded to students of outstanding intellect, character, leadership, and commitment to service from selected countries. As an illustration of the strong links between Canadian alumni at Oxford and their alma mater, the Canadian Rhodes Scholars’ Foundation has been set up to offer a reciprocal award for Oxford graduates to study in Canada. They are the only Rhodes organisation in the world to have done this. Up to three scholarships for two years of graduate study are offered each year, funded by former Canadian Rhodes Scholars. At the doctoral level, Canadian researchers can apply to the Pierre Ellliott Trudeau Foundation scholarship. Once students arrive at Oxford, there are a range of societies and sports groups available to them including the Oxford University Canadian Society and the Oxford University Ice Hockey Club.
As with students, Canada punches above its demographic weight in terms of academic staff at Oxford: with 100 Canadian citizens on faculty, Canada is the ninth largest source of international academics.
Professor Sir John Bell
Professor Bell is Regius Professor of Medicine at Oxford University and has made major contributions to the development of UK clinical and medical science. He founded the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics in Oxford, the first to focus on the genetics of common diseases, and then led the creation of four other clinical research institutes in Oxford. His own research on the immunogenetics of HLA, T cell receptors and autoimmune diseases has been sustained and ground breaking.
Professor Bell is a past President of the Academy of Medical Sciences, has been elected a fellow of the Royal Society and was made a Knight Bachelor for services to medicine in the 2008 New Year’s Honours.
Professor Bell was educated at the University of Alberta, Canada, before taking his medical training at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar at Magdalen College. He became a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in 1992. His academic posts include a Clinical Fellowship at Stanford University, where he stayed from 1982 until his return to Oxford in 1987, where he became Nuffield Professor and Head of Clinical Medicine in 1992.
Canada is home to the 2nd largest concentration of Oxford alumni outside the UK, after the US. Oxford’s alumni – 4,000 and counting – are involved in every kind of career imaginable, from business to non-profit work, from the civil service to sports.
There has been a particular concentration of Canadian alumni in public life, including:
- Two Prime Ministers - Lester B. Pearson and John Turner
- Two provincial premiers - Bob Rae and Robert Bourassa
- Peter Milliken, Former Speaker of the House of Commons
- Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England
- Thomas Cromwell, Supreme Court Justice
- Dominic Barton, Global Managing Director of McKinsey & Company
- Alex Jadad, Chief Innovator and Founder of the Centre for Global eHealth Innovation at the University of Toronto (the Jadad scale, the most widely used procedure in the world to independently assess the methodological quality of a clinical trial, is named after him)
- Astrid Guttmann, Clinician Scientist in the Division of Paediatric Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, and a Scientist at the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences (ICES), Ontario
- David Naylor, former President of the University of Toronto
The Canadian branches of the Oxford University Society (OUS) and the Oxford and Cambridge Society are some of the most active in the international alumni network. There are eight branches across Canada.