“Oxford is beautiful; its beauty is its plumage, its method of procreation. The beauty of the dream of Oxford, of spires and quiet learning,of the life of the mind, of effortless superiority, all these had beguiled me.”
― Naomi Alderman, The Lessons.
It is true that once one becomes an Oxford University student, the indelible connection to Oxford remains for a life time. The invitation to attend the Future of Government Conference 2018, at the Blavatnik School of Government where I completed my Masters of Public Policy as a Louis Dreyfus-Weidenfeld and Hoffmann Scholar, was one of many instances when I have happily returned to my Alma Mater.
Being an ardent gender equality advocate, I had written a contribution for the Oxford Government Review for the Conference. I arrived during an all too familiar rainy day in Oxford on the 31st October, 2018. However, my reflections were not sparked by the buildings or the ‘dreaming spires’ but by my most cherished memories of time spent among other Weidenfeld-Hoffmann Trust Scholars. I was very fortunate to be invited to this year’s Robin Hambro Moral Philosophy Seminar where I listened to current Scholar reflections on justice, global governance and borders. Like always, I found this seminar to be the single most important thing from my time at Oxford; an experience that helps me improve myself as a leader, even today.
I remember participating in my first moral philosophy seminar at Harris Manchester College amidst beautiful architecture and gardens. It was a life changing experience in leadership for me. Coming from an administrative background, philosophical debates with scholars from diverse backgrounds was a treasure and a treat. Since my time at Oxford, I have heard insights from my colleagues and other future leaders on how they view the world, their work and its values. However, few are able to engage at the same level on the subject matter of Moral Philosophy. I can proudly recount the musings of such great philosophers and public intellectuals as Socrates, Isaiah Berlin, Niemöller, Rousseau, Averroes, Nelson Mandela and Gandhi.
During my latest visit to the WHT, I found that the seminar discussions have become more diverse as the size of the scholar group has increased over the years. New scholars’ views on leadership , morality, freedom and ethics left me very impressed with their critical thinking skills and proud to be associated with such a dynamic and captivating group of future change-makers.
As I left Oxford, the discussions around moral philosophy still whizzing through my mind, I reflected on how my own experience as a WHT Scholar helped me become a better and more careful-thinking leader. I expect that it will keep on creating more aware, empathetic and deliberate leaders (who the world needs now more than ever) with every passing cohort of Weidenfeld-Hoffmann scholars.