Essentially back to back this evening, I had two of the best lectures since arriving in Oxford. It was a well-timed reminder of why it is so valuable to be here, and the kind of knowledge and people one can be exposed to in this environment.
The first speaker was Hilary Benn, appearing as part of the Global Economic Governance series. He is the Secretary of State for International Development in the current British Government. His speech took in everything from institutional reform at the World Bank to what should be done in Darfur. While he may have oversimplified a great deal at times, it was nonetheless refreshing to hear a government official saying some very sensible and progressive things about the role Britain should play in the world. During the question session, I asked him about his department’s policy position on West African fisheries. He advised me to write him a letter, and promised a detailed response. Thanks to an aid, I have the real email address of a British cabinet member in my pocket. I will come up with a cover letter that addresses the major points, then include a copy of the article in print in case he (or a staffer) wants more detail.
The second speaker, through the Strategic Studies Group, was Rear Admiral C.J. Parry. I spoke with him during dinner about his aviation experience (he actually flew a V-22 Osprey). His talk, in the capacity of Director General of Development, Concepts and Doctrine for the Ministry of Defence at Shrivenham, was a look forward into major strategic threats in the next thirty years or so. That said, it was a candid and engaging presentation that has sparked a lot of thought and debate – exactly what the mandate of OUSSG is to provide.
Sorry if this is all a bit breathless, but I suddenly feel as though I have a lot to do – and not just in terms of the thesis work I have been dreading.
PS. Both Kai and Alex are back, which adds to my sense of rejuvination. Likewise, the opportunity that has been afforded to see the friendly trio of Bryony, Claire, and Emily was most welcome. Indeed, seeing all members of the program has felt a bit like suddenly being surrounded by friends in Vancouver. Things with my new college advisor – Robert Shilliam – are also going well.
PPS. I have my first free Wadham high table dinner booked for tomorrow, as part of the Senior Scholarship.