New Idea from the Old School

By Heron, Liz | The Independent (London, England), July 14, 1994 | Go to article overview
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New Idea from the Old School

Heron, Liz, The Independent (London, England)

London University is forming a school of advanced study around its prestigious postgraduate institutes to provide a national centre for scholarship in the humanities and social sciences.

The school will open up the institutes' valuable library collections to academics from throughout the UK, and promote cross- fertilisation between disciplines through conferences, seminars, publications, research programmes and new degrees. It will formally open on 1 August 1994.

Professor Terry Daintith, dean of the school, says: "Over the years, the institutes have built up a strength in specialist scholarship and specialised resources that no generalist institution can match. We shall see a substantial increase in the opportunities, facilities and stimulation we can offer people."

The Warburg Institute and the Institutes of Historical Research, Classical Studies, Germanic Studies, Romance Studies, Commonwealth Studies, Latin American Studies, United States Studies and Advanced Legal Studies will be full members of the school, while the Courtauld Institute of Art, the Centre for Defence Studies and the British Institute in Paris will be associates.

The school will build on traditions of inter-disciplinary scholarship, and will increase collaboration between institutes. In recent years, institutes have jointly mounted conferences, seminars and research programmes that span conventional subject divisions. The school is keen to hold international conferences that draw both on institutes' varied subjects and their wide geographical reach.

Professor James Manor, director of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, says: "The school crosses the line between the humanities and the social sciences with great ease. This gives us a huge advantage, and is of great interest to international funding agencies, because it is difficult to cross that line in the US and Canada."

It is negotiating for international scholarships with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and some small foundations in New York. It is also forging ties with national institutions in the Netherlands and France, which could help it gain funding from European foundations and the EC.

Professor Manor says: "The signs are promising. The French have indicated an eagerness to provide us with fellowship funding to bring distinguished French scholars to London to work within the school. And we may persuade an American foundation to provide us with a fellowship over three years."

A new cross-disciplinary masters degree in the history of the book, which demonstrates the school's potential for collaboration and mustering resources, will be launched next year. The degree will draw teaching staff from six London University colleges and the British Library, and will be partly taught on location in national libraries.

The British Library, Victoria and Albert Museum, Public Record Office, Lambeth Palace Library, Worshipful Company of Stationers and University of London Library have agreed to act as teaching centres.

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New Idea from the Old School


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