I was appointed Director of Studies in Philosophy at the Department for Continuing Education, University of Oxford (OUDCE) in 2001. I was delighted to get a post in ‘lifelong learning’ because, having been a mature student myself (see below), it is close to my heart. As DoS in Philosophy I get to arrange the University’s ‘outreach’ in philosophy. I organise weekly classes in Oxford and in the surrounding area (for example Reading, Newbury…), weekend schools at Rewley House (http://bit.ly/ZuHvjs), summer schools also at Rewley House and short online courses (I have written three of these myself and am currently writing a fourth). All these classes and courses are open to anyone! All you have to be is enthusiastic. The weekly classes and online courses attract CATS points (Credit Accummulated Transfers) which can, when you have enough of them, satisfy the entry requirements to certain universities.
In my role as DOS in Philosophy at OUDCE I am President of the OUDCE Philosophical Society. This is a thriving organisation, with 380 members, many based overseas. It too is open to anyone and you can check it out here: http://bit.ly/mfFLpq
A Podcasting Success
I am delighted my podcasts have been so successful. Two of them have become global number one on iTunesU (the University of iTunes), and together these two have been downloaded over 4 million times!
On May 3rd 2011 one of them, The Nature of Argument, held every single one of the top ten positions on the iTunesU download chart! Here is a screen-grab of that momentous occasion:
You can access these podcasts, and the many others I have made, either from this website (see button above) or from the website of the University of Oxford, Faculty of Philosophy:
Before taking up the OUDCE job I was College Lecturer in Philosophy for Brasenose College, Oxford (1990-2000), and Pembroke College Oxford (1987- 1990). Before that I was working on my B.Phil (completed 1987), and myD.Phil (which, sadly I didn’t finish thanks to getting a job too soon – warning for others!). I did both at Corpus ChristiCollege, Oxford, and am amazed to discover that I have been at Oxford for 28 years. How did that happen?
I did my first degree at LondonUniversity. I started at BedfordCollege, in gorgeous Regent’s Park. It was the perfect place to do the perfect subject. In my third year, however, Bedford moved to Royal Holloway, though the Philosophy Department moved to King’s. My degree (First Class Honours) was from King’s College. I walked on air during the whole of my three years as an undergraduate – it was the start of my love affair with philosophy (which continues…..).
I came to philosophy late, at 26, because, having been thrown out of school at 15 (for truancy and disruption) I didn’t even consider going to university for many years. Instead I did the overland trail – the ‘Hippy Trail’ – to Australia, travelling through Greece, Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Burma, Thailand and Malaysia, landing in Australia aged 19. I stayed there for three years, then travelled back to England through Africa (lived in South Africa for a year – loved it but couldn’t take apartheid which was at its height). By that time I was starved of intellectual stimulation. I decided to take a course with the Open University (a wonderful organisation).
Because I had no qualifications (not even two O-levels to rub together as a friend put it) I did an Arts Foundation course. In the middle of it was philosophy.
At this time the core of the Philosophy course was elementary formal logic. It was the hardest thing I had ever done. I sat up all night working on it. In the morning I realised I had never enjoyed anything so much as I had that logic. I did more, loved it more, and when I passed my OU year, I applied to, and was accepted by, BedfordCollege to do philosophy full time.