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Professor Tim Harper, the new Chair of the Faculty

Tim Harper

One of my first tasks as Chair was to welcome our new undergraduates.  This year was rather special, as, in addition to 185 new History students, we also welcomed the first intakes of our new joint degrees, 39 in History and Politics, and 19 in History and Modern Languages.

The joint degrees, shared with the Department of Politics and International Relations and with the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages, are one of many current initiatives to further enrich the experience of our undergraduates.  In 2018, we begin the work of implementing our major reforms to part I of the Tripos, set in motion by my predecessor, Dr Lawrence Klein, not least to develop new courses.

The best teaching springs directly out of our research.  The newsletter showcases some major research projects launched recently within the Faculty, such as Eugenio Biagini’s on the history of religious minorities in modern Ireland, and others, such as an ESRC project led by Peter Mandler on ‘Secondary Education and Social Change in the UK since 1945'.  We also highlight the work of some of our graduate students.  This October, we welcomed 155 new MPhil and 57 new PhD students.  From my fresh vantage point as Chair, the sheer breadth and scale of the intellectual activity in the Faculty is truly remarkable.

A range of this work was featured in the sixteen Faculty events held as part of the University’s 2017 Festival of Ideas.  For a flavour of this, you might be interested in the films on our new YouTube channel, to which we will be making available more public lectures and podcasts over the coming months.  And through this more regular e-newsletter I very much hope to encourage you to join us for this kind of event, if you are able to.

This year, one of my tasks will be to steer a Horizon Survey, a comprehensive review of our research and teaching, our aspirations and needs over the coming years, to anticipate and plan for what the Faculty, and the History discipline, might look like in ten to twenty years from now.  I hope to report on progress over the next year or so. 

All this leads us inevitably to reflect on our past.  I hope you enjoy the film about the James Sterling Building, fifty years on, and the recollections of former students.  These might jog your own memories, and, as we look ahead, we’d love to hear from you.