Oxford: tradizioni passate e città del futuro

Secondo alcuni quest'anno l’Università di Oxford compirebbe gli 8 secoli di vita, ma la tradizione dell'insegnamento in questa città  è molto più antica e nessuno sa dire con certezza quando l’ateneo fu fondato. Poco importa, perché Oxford, nonostante gli edifici medievali, è proiettata verso il futuro. Soprattutto nella ricerca scientifica. Leggi l'articolo di Speak Up e ascolta l’audio dell'intervista a fondo pagina.

The English city of Oxford is home to one of the world’s oldest and most prestigious universities. And Loren Griffith, an American who moved there to take up the post of Director of International Strategy at the University, certainly enjoys it:

Loren Griffith (Standard American accent):

Oh, this is a great place to live and to work. I think the balance that Oxford strikes so nicely for me1, that makes it a special place almost

above any other in the world, is that it’s both a very small, compact town where you can get around by bike. For a long time I didn’t even own a car here, and still today I bike back and forth to work every day – and at the same time it’s an incredibly cosmopolitan and exciting place where you’ll find people from all around the world doing world-leading research, and have the sort of conversations  that might otherwise only be possible in some of the world’s biggest, most hectic2 cities, here you get without the craziness3 that comes from being in London or New York or Shanghai!

We then asked him about the challenges4 facing the university in the 21st century:

Loren Griffith:

One of the things that we’re working on a lot these days is reinforcing connections between disciplines at Oxford. So here, as at many universities, we’ve focused for a long time on building excellence within disciplines, within political science, within engineering, within medicine, and we recognise that today most of the world’s biggest challenges are interdisciplinary in nature: climate change, ageing, migration, even a topic like cancer, which would seem to be within medicine, has important elements that relate to social science, for instance, the behaviour5 of individuals that contribute to their likelihood6 of getting cancer. And therefore we need to create new research clusters7 that break down the barriers between these disciplines, and we’ve done that through something called the Oxford Martin School, which provides a lot of funding for research projects focused on these great challenges of the 21st century.

Foreign students:
Getting a place at Oxford University is extremely difficult, but foreign students are more than welcome, as long as they have the right academic qualifications:

Loren Griffith:

More than a third of our students come from outside the UK; about one in six at the undergraduate level, and more than three in five among our postgraduates. So we take very seriously the need to be open, and that entails8 a lot of work to understand the qualifications that students from different parts of the world bring, it takes a lot of work to ensure affordability9 for students from around the world, and, you know, in recent years we have raised10 a great deal more money, mostly from philanthropic sources, for scholarships11 than we ever had before, that means that we now have more than a thousand fully-funded scholarships at the postgraduate level, almost all of them available to students from wherever around the world they may come, and that will be a continuing focus for us, to ensure that those who are able to make it through a very demanding12 admissions process are able to come, and (are) not barred for financial reasons from attending13.

1    the balance ... so nicely for me: l’equilibrio che mi colpisce così positivamente a Oxford
2    hectic: frenetiche
3    craziness: pazzia, caos
4    challenges: sfide
5    behaviour: comportamento
6    likelihood: probabilità
7    clusters: gruppi, settori
8    that entails: ciò comporta
9    to ensure affordability: per assicurare l’accessibilità economica
10    we have raised: abbiamo raccolto
11    scholarships: borse di studio
12    demanding: impegnativo
13   not barred for financial reasons from attending: che non sia loro impedito l’accesso per motivi economici


Town and gown. Città e toga. Si usa questo termine (che fa rima) per descrivere il rapporto spesso teso tra gli studenti e i cittadini, ad esempio a Oxford, Cambridge, Edimburgo e St. Andrews (l'università scozzese dove Kate e William si sono conosciuti).

I bike back and forth to work every day. Vado avanti e indietro dal lavoro in bici ogni giorno. Per esprimere il concetto di “avanti e indietro” in inglese si usa quest’espressione un po’ arcaica: back and forth.

Undergraduate level. A livello di laurea. Nelle università anglofone ci sono due tipi di studenti: quelli che stanno preparando la laurea, gli undergraduates (letteralmente i “sottolaureati”), e quelli che stanno facendo il Master’s, oppure il Ph. D (che a Oxford si chiama D. Phil), i postgraduates.

A very demanding admissions procedure.

Una procedura di registrazione molto difficile. Le università inglesi sono a numero chiuso e Oxford e Cambridge sono particolarmente selettive.



The University of Bologna is the oldest university in the world – and the word "university"originates from its foundation.


Many of the locations from the Harry Potter movies, especially those with gothic architecture, were filmed in Oxford, including:

• Christ Church dining hall was used as that of Hogwarts
• Duke Humfrey’s Library (which is part of the famous Bodleian Library, and has more than 80 miles (128 km of bookshelves) was used as Hogwarts library
• The Divinity School (which is also  part of the Bodleian Library) was used as the Hogwarts Sanatorium.

Per ascoltare l’audio dell’articolo e praticare l’accento americano vai sul sito di Speak Up:
(link: http://www.speakuponline.it/articolo/oxford-past-present-and-future)
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