Oliver Cox
Dr Oliver Cox of TORCH took part in Soapbox City.

Oxford academics get on their soapbox

Stuart Gillespie

Oxford academics had the chance to get on their soapbox today as part of the city's May Day celebrations.

Marchella WardMarchella Ward tells people 'Why Greek Plays Matter'.

Organised by the Oxford Playhouse and Pegasus Theatre, 'Soapbox City' gave the people of Oxford the opportunity to address the Broad Street crowds on a topic of their choice.

The event came with the strapline '1 City, 1 Box, 12 Hours, 144 Voices' and included a 30-minute slot curated by The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH).

Dr Oliver Cox, a Knowledge Exchange Fellow at TORCH, braved the heavy rain to speak on the subject of 'Heritage and Innovation: A Counter-Intuitive Partnership'.

He told Arts Blog: 'It was surprisingly nerve-racking, and it was strange hearing your own voice echo round Broad Street.

'But it was also really exciting to have a platform to say something about the University working together with the local community.

'My message today was "hug a tourist". Tourists are good for us and their money can help sustain and support us.'

Other speakers during an enjoyable and informative half-hour included Jonathan Courtney of the Faculty of Philosophy ('Altruism and Giving What We Can') and Marchella Ward of the Faculty of Classics ('Why Greek Plays Matter').

Also speaking in the TORCH slot were two physicists: Dr Francesca Day, who talked about physics and fan fiction, and Dr Grant Miller, who spoke on the subject of citizen science.

Completing the line-up was Dr Pegram Harrison of the Saïd Business School, whose topic was Antony Gormley's Exeter College statue.