History of the Oxford International Round Table
The purpose of the Oxford International Round Table is to promote education, art, science, religion and charity by means of academic conferences and publication of scholarly papers. This Round Table is to be held at Harris Manchester College in the University of Oxford. As you may know, the University of Oxford is a confederation of thirty-eight (38) colleges of which Harris Manchester College is one. Harris Manchester College was selected as the location for the meeting because of its reputation, its location in the heart of Oxford, and because of its congenial working relationship with the members of the Oxford International Round Table Programme Committee and Advisory Board.
Thirty-four years ago, the Oxford International Round Table held its first meeting in New Inn Lane at St. Peter’s College in the University of Oxford to consider public policy issues bearing on education in the United States, the United Kingdom, and other selected countries. Participants in the foundational meeting included the Master of St. Peters, the Chancellor and Vice Chancellor of the University of Oxford, ministers of education from twenty countries, the Chair of the National Governor’s Association and several legislators from the United States. Pursuant to the success of that Round Table, additional meetings were deemed desirable and more were held thereafter. Participation was later broadened to include university presidents and subsequently further expanded to involve scholars from many academic disciplines.
As an independent educational and charitable organization, the Oxford International Round Table is not under the control of the hosting Oxford colleges, most of which are established as endowed sectarian foundations, nor is it in anyway under the aegis, restraint or sanction of the University of Oxford; rather, the Round Table is free-standing, apolitical and non-denominational. Papers presented at Round Tables are evaluated solely on their academic merit, and publications emanating therefrom are approved only after peer review by external evaluators.
The Oxford International Round Table seeks to provide an interdisciplinary forum for the discussion of contemporary issues that affect the public good in all its various forms and ramifications. The public good is expansively interpreted by the Round Table to include all matters that enrich the human experience and enhance the human condition. Past themes of meetings have included considerations of human rights, social welfare, economics, religion, ethics, morals, law, medicine and the liberal arts and sciences. Each session is designed around a format that enables participants to present papers and to engage in discussions regarding those papers in both formal colloquy and informal dialogue.
Invitees to Round Tables are determined based on several criteria, among which are nominations by earlier attendees, courses that invitees teach, their presentations and writings, and their professional involvement in a relevant area of interest. An attempt is also made to diversify as to academic discipline, the type of institution, public or private, and to involve institutions representing different levels of education; i.e. schools, community colleges, four-year colleges, graduate and research universities.
Round Tables are held in the colleges of the University of Oxford through special and separate arrangements with each college. Participants are accommodated in the colleges where they are provided rooms, receptions, breakfast, lunch and dinners in the college halls and various other amenities. There are 38 such colleges in the University of Oxford. The formal meetings in which participants present papers and engage in dialogue are usually held at the Oxford Union Debating Society, the Examination Schools of the University, and/or in facilities of the respective colleges.
Various sessions of the Round Table have been sponsored by the British Council, the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Rockefeller Foundation, Apple Computer, Boeing, and the Bernard van Leer Foundation, The Hague, Netherlands.