“To rove about, musing, that is to say loitering, is, for a philosopher, a good way of spending time.” – Victor Hugo

Many Fitzwilliam graduate students will tell you of the importance of musing. Be it in the dining hall, hidden amongst the bookshelves of the library, or in the social spaces of the College, graduate students are often to be found engaging in academic dialogue with each other. It might be the biologist attempting to explain gene-splicing to the modern historian, or the geography student vigorously defending his research from the critique of a group of engineers. And, against the backdrop of looming deadlines and financial pressures, they seem to enjoy this simple act of musing. As Victor Hugo correctly identified in the quotation above, part of the art and skill of nurturing an inquisitive mind is the ability to loiter amongst like-minded individuals and simply enjoy the act of thinking.

Musing is something that Fitzwilliam has traditionally excelled at. The College was founded in 1869 by a Royal Commission with the aim of admitting students on the basis of academic merit alone. The first intake of students were those that excelled at their studies, and flourished on account of the boundlessness of their inquisitive minds, rather than as a result of inherited wealth or nepotism. Fitzwilliam was also the first College where graduate students, who did not undertake undergraduate studies at Cambridge, were permitted to join the University.

From a range of social backgrounds, nations, and academic disciplines, Fitzwilliam has always attracted the best graduate students. Indeed, all of Fitzwilliam’s Nobel laureates were graduate students at the College. It has a substantial graduate student population with about 300 members (approximately 40% of the students at Fitzwilliam). Those looking to expand their academic horizons are certainly not short of fellow students to engage with!

The high number of graduates living in or near the College creates one of the most active and friendly graduate communities in Cambridge, centred around the Middle Combination Room (MCR). The MCR has traditionally been both a centripetal and centrifugal force: drawing together a diverse selection of outstanding academic minds, and later sending them out into the wider worlds of academia, business, and areas of civil service.

A collaboration with the Graduate Tutors at the College, this blog is intended to capture a flavour of the lively graduate research being undertaken at Fitzwilliam. Members of the MCR community will be able to use this space to write short summaries (500-750 words) of their academic interests, research experiences, and general musings about academic life in College, the University, and beyond. We hope these musings will inspire, inform, and illuminate.

We hope you’ll continue (in Hugo’s words) to “loiter” with us and share your musings as we launch this blog space together.

Dr Stephen Taylor (Matriculated 2005; completed PhD 2013), John Mueller (Matriculated 2009; current PhD student), and Dr Bhaskar Vira (Graduate Tutor).

Bhaskar Vira

About Bhaskar Vira

Bhaskar Vira is a Fellow in Geography, specialising in Environment and Development, and is Graduate Tutor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>