As we adjust to the news that a small majority of the UK population voted Leave in the June 23 Referendum on EU membership, it seems important to set out where the Oxford Centre for Criminology sees itself in the world. Universities have always been sites of global exchange of students and personnel as, unlike nation states, knowledge has no borders. Criminology in Oxford has benefited enormously from our international students and colleagues, just as it has from our British-born ones.
This year the Centre for Criminology has been celebrating our 50th anniversary. In the various events we have held, we have made much of our roots, our current focus, as well as our plans for the future. In all of these iterations, Criminology in Oxford is profoundly and proudly global.
While the 50 years dates the establishment of Criminology in Oxford to the foundation of a Penal Research Unit by the late Dr Nigel Walker in 1966, in fact the discipline was first taught in Oxford by German émigré, Max Grunhut, who, was offered sanctuary by All Souls College in 1939, to continue his work on Criminal Justice that had fallen foul of the Nazi regime.
Since then innumerable staff and associate faculty have come and gone, working on short-term contracts, as permanent postholders, in administrative roles and as research collaborators. Many have been from the EU, others from further afield still. A brief and likely incomplete overview of national origins reveals an assortment of countries including: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Sweden, and the US. Once our student intake is taken into account, the range of countries grows further still.
The global reach of Oxford criminology is not limited to those working or studying here, but is also reflected in the scholarship of faculty and students. Oxford produces pioneering global and comparative work on the death penalty, migration control, policing, security, transitional justice, human trafficking and other topics that transcend borders. In recognition of our expertise in these areas, and of the global nature of criminal justice more broadly, we recently announced the creation of a Global Criminal Justice Hub.
While it is, as yet, unclear what will be the medium and longer term implications of the referendum in Britain, given how much we have always benefited from our students and colleagues from around the world, we at the Centre for Criminology will not waver in our commitment to welcome those from abroad and fully involve them in the intellectual life of our department.
Criminal justice decisions are no longer, if they ever were, limited to the nation state in which they are made. Nor can sound scholarship be forged without reference to ideas and people from elsewhere. Hence universities must remain truly global institutions.
Ideas and scholarship may seem like weak bulwarks against the dangers inherent in this uncertain period of politics, but ideas are always necessary for understanding and progressive alternatives. So the Centre for Criminology welcomes visitors, students and colleagues from around the world, and remains committed to embracing all in the production of critical scholarship that aims to produce positive impacts across every continent.