Opinions

New Year Dreams

How many times did you come up with a crazy idea? How many times did they tell you that your project is unfeasible? How many times did they deter you from fulfilling your dreams? How many times did they say “Surely, you cannot do it”? The following story proves that dreams come true. This is an anecdote from the life of Henry Ford, the king of automobiles. At the start of his career he sought a loan from a bank in the US. The answer of the banker was both disappointing and a self ful... »

A Museum saved

The following letter by Ray Lawrence indicates one way of fighting against cuts in Arts and Humanities “Over the last year, many colleagues on this list have been very supportive of the campaign to keep museums open in Canterbury. I would like to up-date you all on how things are progressing. Basically, the argument was won and the Council recognises that the city’s museums are an asset that the community of Canterbury values. The campaign included: an on-line petition, advocacy by a range... »

Karl Lagerfeld supports Classics

Karl Lagerfeld is not just a fashion designer and famous photographer. He also seems to be a fervent supporter of teaching Greek and Latin in Schools. In a recent interview he claimed that learning ancient languages is imperative, since modern languages and civilisations are based on them. His artistic tendencies seem to idealise the ancient world. Yesterday in Moschow he revealed the new Pirelli calendar, whose photos combine his passion for natural beauty with Greek and Roman deities. When jou... »

Humanities and Social Sciences matter!

If you have not already signed the petition, I urge you to do so NOW! The University cuts we are going through will not make substantial difference to the overall budget, while they may cause chaos to Humanities and Social Sciences. Adam Smith from UCL is collecting signatures, so that we may avoid the worst. Specifically, he says that: “If you haven’t already, take a look at this site http://humanitiesmatter.wordpress.com/ and if you agree with the general thrust of it, please sign ... »

How to come up with innovative ideas

When I started writing my PhD, I was afraid that I would never have anything new to say. Back then, it seemed to me that everything had already been studied and all the good ideas were already taken. Petrified at the thought of starting my first chapter, I expressed my fears to my supervisor. He tried to alleviate them by giving me the following advice: “Open a bottle of wine, sit by the fireplace, drink a couple of glasses and relax. The ideas will flow afterwards”. As an obedient student, I fo... »

Charitable professors: Donating your money to the University

Two weeks ago I read the news about Classics Professor Douglas MacDowell of the University of Glasgow, who donated after his death over 2 million pounds to his department. The Scottish Academic left the money to the university with the provision that they would fund his old position of Professorship in Greek. It seems that because of financial difficulties Glasgow University has not advertised this post after he retired. The chair remained empty and the sustainability of the subject on the whole... »

Tips for Undergraduates: How to tackle a reading list

Have you felt the panic rising, when you were handed an exceptionally long reading list? Have you felt the desperation taking over in minutes? If yes, you should read this post. You are not supposed to read every book on the list! I don’t expect you to do so. Most teachers know that this is more or less a wish list. Ideally, we would like our students to read everything but, in practice, we know that this is impossible. Books on the list make a great background reading on the period but usually ... »

Tips for Undergraduates: How to Start Writing an Essay

The beginning of writing is always painful. You may feel uncertain about your ideas, you may feel that you have not studied enough, you may feel that your writing skills are inadequate. All these feelings may or may not be true. At some point, though, you should brush them aside, sit in front of the computer and start writing. The best way to start is by writing your… conclusions. Do not bother with the introduction or the main text. Jump directly into the conclusions. By the time you begin your... »

How to become a happy Academic

The majority of academics in several different countries keep complaining about the quality of their lives. In all fairness, being an academic is not a small feat. The constant demands on our free time (if any of it is left), the ever increasing number of publications we should produce, the intense effort to enhance the cognitive abilities of our students, the regular trips abroad and, last but not least, the low quality of cafeteria food are the main factors for becoming discontented with our j... »

Tips for Undergraduates: How to Read a Book

This week I have been contemplating my new administrative role in the department. I will leave behind me the Exchanges coordination for a while and I will get involved, instead, with the coordination of first year and second year undergraduate modules. Effectively, this means that I will also be responsible for guiding new students with their studies. Even if we have a very thick Handbook that explains Everything, I am very well aware that an infinitesimal number of students read all of it. So, ... »

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