Oxford memorial held for George Weidenfeld

A vibrant and moving memorial was held in honour of George Weidenfeld, founder of the Europaeum association – “his first baby” – last September 24th, in the Sheldonian Theatre at the University of Oxford, in the presence of some 250 specially invited guests: scholars, friends, families, supporters, and, of course, beneficiaries from his various activities and scholarship schemes.

After coming to Oxford in 1991 with his idea for the Europaeum, Lord Weidenfeld continued to work and support the University in many different ways, serving for many years as Vice-President of the University’s Development Campaign. Several representatives from Europaeum programmes, from the Jenkins Scholarship Scheme (which is linked to the Europaeum), and from the Weidenfeld-Hoffman Scholarship Scheme were present. Three scholars gave moving statements about how much the latter scheme, which funds up to 25 top-ranking scholars each year, had helped to change their lives. Both were ideas first discussed within the Europaeum board.

Addresses were given by Dr Andrew Graham, Chair of the Europaeum Academic Council, and Oxford Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, who is due to become the next Vice-Chancellor of St Andrews University. Other talks came from the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, Professor Louise Richardson, and two relatives of Lord Weidenfeld, who died on January 20th at the age of 96. Please see here for a range of obituaries on Lord Weidenfeld. For a brief biographical note see here.

European Democracy Day for Alumni

Excitement is mounting for the Europaeum’s inaugural special  Europaeum Day focussing on European Democracy – including the role the UK may play in a future European Union. We will have 25 former Europaeum alumni, some going back more than five years, coming back to participate in our day of activities which will include a fireside chat with former European Commission President Joao Manuel Barroso and Professor Yves Meny, and a model European Parliament-style debate on four key policy recommendations to do with democratic reforms for the EU: universal election, adding to the powers of the Parliament, investigating how the new six-pack and other reforms will lead to greater centralization, and ways of involving more bottom-up participation. The students, who will be joined by some from our the Weidenfeld Scholarships Scheme and the Blatvanik School of Governance, will plan their ideas over a working lunch and after dinner they will attend the special debate on BeExit – featuring Professor Barroso, Nick Clegg, Nigel Farage and Sir William Cash. For more details on the debate, see the attached poster here.

Technology and the Human Future focus in Oslo

The collaboration between the Europaeum and the New York Review of Books continues, as their conference on Technology and the Human Future, hosted in Oslo and supported by the Europaeum, starts today. Spanning two days and comprising an impressive number of talks and speakers, the conference welcomes several representatives of the Oxford Internet Institute, which is linked to the Europaeum, as well as Simon Head, an Associate Fellow at the Rothermere American Institute in Oxford and author of The New Ruthless Economy: Work and Power in the Digital Age (OUP 2005), who heads up our partnership with the NYRB Foundation. The conference promises to tackle a broad and ambitious range of topics relating to technology and the “deep changes” it can bring about in our lives, and thus in “the human future in all its dimensions” These are potentially momentous changes, which “concern us as public citizens in our relations to the state, as private citizens in our relations to one another, and in our lives as consumers and employees.” Please see here for a full programme and for more details.

Patten speaks on the future of China-Europe relations

Lord (Chris) Patten – Europaeum Trustee, Chancellor of Oxford University, former Chairman of the BBC Trust, former European Commissioner on External Relations, former MP and Conservative Party stalwart, and author – recently gave the Europaeum an interview expressing views on several key issues to do with China, drawing on his critical role as the last Governor of Hong Kong (1992-97). This interview prepared as a key contribution to our discussions in our recent summer school on China and Europe – Challenges for the Future(see below), conducted by Dr Nick Bunnin from the Oxford Chinese Studies Institute and an active memer of the Oxford Euroapeum Board.  Themes covered included ageing, demographics, governance, questions of legitimacy, and relations between China and Europe. Please see the interview here. (NB We apologize for the quality of the interview, which was recorded with roadworks outside and with a simple handheld camera.)