Cambridge, University of

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Cambridge, University of

University of Cambridge, at Cambridge, England, one of the oldest English-language universities in the world. Originating in the early 12th cent. (legend places its origin even earlier than that of the Univ. of Oxford), Cambridge was organized into residential colleges, like those of Oxford, by the end of the 13th cent.

Colleges

The 31 colleges presently associated with Cambridge, with their dates of founding, are Peterhouse, or St. Peter's (1284), Clare (1326), Pembroke (1347), Gonville (1348; refounded as Gonville and Caius, 1558), Trinity Hall (1350), Corpus Christi (1352), King's (1441), Queens' (1448), St. Catharine's (1473), Jesus (1496), Christ's (1505), St. John's (1511), Magdalene (1542; pronounced môd´lĬn), Trinity (1546), Emmanuel (1584), Sidney Sussex (1596), Downing (1800), Homerton (1824; for students of education), Girton (1869), Selwyn (1882), Hughes (founded 1885 as Cambridge Training College for Women; approved foundation 1968), St. Edmund's (1896), Churchill (1960), Fitzwilliam (founded 1869 as a noncollegiate society, became a college 1966), and Robinson (1977).

The women's colleges are Newnham (1871), New Hall (1954), and Lucy Cavendish (1965). Girton (formerly a women's college) and Newnham were pioneers in university education for women. Although women took university examinations in the 1880s and after 1921 were awarded degrees, their colleges were not admitted to full university status until 1948. Darwin College (1964), Wolfson College (1965; founded as University College, renamed 1973), and Clare Hall (1966) are graduate institutions.

Curriculum and Facilities

Cambridge was a center of the new learning of the Renaissance and of the theology of the Reformation; in modern times it has excelled in science. It has faculties of classics, divinity, English, architecture and history of art, modern and medieval languages, Oriental studies, music, economics and politics, history, law, philosophy, education, engineering, earth sciences and geography, mathematics, biology, archaeology and anthropology, physics and chemistry, and medicine. There are also departments of veterinary medicine, chemical engineering, land economy, and the history and philosophy of science as well as a computer laboratory.

Cambridge's famous Cavendish Laboratory of experimental physics was opened in 1873; the Cavendish professors have been outstanding names in physics. The chapel of King's College (1446), the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the botanic gardens are notable features of the university. There are also centers for African, Latin American, Middle Eastern, and South Asian studies; international law; archaeological research; medical genetics; and superconduvtivity research. Instruction at Cambridge is similar to the system at Oxford, except that tutors are called supervisors and the degree examination is known as the tripos. Until 1948, Cambridge sent two representatives to Parliament. Cambridge Univ. Press dates from the 16th cent.

Bibliography

See E. Vale, Cambridge and Its Colleges (1959); F. A. Reeve, Cambridge (1964); C. R. Benstead, Portrait of Cambridge (1968).

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