As the UK marks its final day within the EU, here at the Centre for Criminology in Oxford, we want to restate our commitment to an internationalist outlook in our teaching and research, and to working collaboratively with our EU (and non-EU) colleagues here and abroad.  

The Centre for Criminology has always benefited from an international community of scholars and students. As with a number of other Criminology departments in the UK, the Centre’s foundations were laid by an EU citizen, the distinguished German refugee criminal lawyer and criminologist, Dr Max Grünhut, who was the first University Reader in Criminology at Oxford. These days, our staff and student groups hale from a range of countries and continents within the EU and further afield. While numbers of EU applicants to our MSc program declined in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 referendum, they were back up this year.  We hope that stays steady after today, but it is hard to predict.

Wherever people are from, and whatever citizenship they hold, much of the research that happens in Oxford, has a global dimension.  Increasingly our teaching does too and our students write their dissertations on a range of jurisdictions. We also have a vibrant community of international postdoctoral research fellows, some of whom are studying practices elsewhere. Our research has benefited from European research funding and has influenced and continues to shape scholarship and policy in the EU as well. 

In 2016, as part of our 50thanniversary celebrations, we formalised our international orientation, through the creation of the Global Criminal Justice Hub.  Each year, we welcome visitors from the academy and also civil society through this mechanism, as visiting students, colleagues and fellows. We participate in a Monash University postgraduate student workshop in their Italian campus in Prato alongside a range of international universities, and our students have also taught at Pompe Fabreu University in Barcelona. In April, our colleagues at Oslo University will be hosting a group of Oxford DPhil students in an event with other Nordic universities, to discuss their research.

Just last week Border Criminologieswebsite launched a new interactive map, the Landscapes of Border Control, which documents practices in detention in Italy and Greece. This project relies on partner organisations and individuals in those countries, working with colleagues here. Conversations occur in a number of languages, and across disciplines and institutions.  The map seeks to illuminate hidden practices, and is designed for academics, civil society and the interesting public. 

While finally, in July, Rachel Condry and Shona Minson will be chairing a workshop at the Onati International Institute for the Sociology of Law, on Global Perspectives on Prisoners’ Families. Papers will be published as an edited collection, significantly expanding our scholarly understanding of the impact of incarceration worldwide.

It remains unclear what will change after January 31st. The details of the withdrawal agreement remain opaque.  Oxford University, like others throughout the UK, relies on EU research funding and so is hoping for relief in that quarter. Here, as elsewhere, however, it seems that students will no longer visit under the Erasmus scheme. Within criminology, the League of European Research Universities (LERU) offers one means by which we can all continue to work with colleagues in Europe. So, too, this year’s European Society of Criminologyconference in Bucharest is likely to be well-attended by British academics.

As universities respond to the legal shifts in free movement, it will be important for us all to restate our commitment to the free circulation of ideas and research.  This commitment is not bound by geography, and thus, should also extend to our EU and non-EU colleagues, students and projects. We have already been captured by the hostile environment however, as we are forced to handover passports for payment of examining, and to check on the whereabouts of our non-EU students.  Will we soon be doing this for EU citizens too? Or, is this a moment to revisit these arrangements altogether and reject them anew? It seems unlikely under the current political administration, but we know that academia can’t work in isolation; it is inherently global. And so, if we are not to restate our commitment now, to a global world of ideas and the people who develop them, then when will ever do so?