Posted in Guest posts · Master's blog

Today’s blog post comes from Andrew Powell, Bursar, who has recently returned from Japan.

Followers of the Master’s blog will have observed that it is the travelling season! One of my responsibilities as Bursar is to nurture the eighteen-year-old relationship between Fitzwilliam College and the Tsuzuki Educational Institution Group – which is a joint relationship, shared with Fitzwilliam and St Anne’s College, Oxford. Each year it is our fascinating duty to go to Tokyo and to Fukuoka to participate in the formal Matriculation ceremonies, meet with our alumni in Tokyo and to visit our students – up to ten in number across the two Colleges – who are spending a year in Japan as holders of the ‘year in Japan’ scholarships offered by the Japan University of Economics, which is a member of the group.

Tokyo

Left to right: Sebastian Dakin (Oriental Studies 1990), Peter Rackowe (Oriental Studies 1990), Andrew Powell (Bursar), Professor Takeshi Kido (Visiting Fellow 1988), Graham Courtney (MML 1977)

For our students, the year in Japan is a wonderful opportunity, and competition for places on the scheme is high. They spend half their day in Japanese classes, and spend much of the rest of their week teaching English, either in the school owned by the same Group, or privately. But they also have time to explore. Fukuoka where they are based is only forty minutes by direct international flight from South Korea, one and a half hours from Shanghai, and just over four hours from Beijing. They have made good use of their time: when we went out to dinner on the final evening of our trip, we heard tales of visits to all of those places as well as exploration of Japan itself. To meet them at this stage of their time in Japan is a healthy reminder of the amazing range of opportunities that Fitzwilliam has to offer, and at the same time a call to build on them to enrich the possibilities for future students.

The visit also offers a rare chance to see the world, our College, and our University through different eyes, in meetings with alumni and with the Chancellor and senior directors of the Tsuzuki Educational group – who are kind hosts and generous providers of the student programme.

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Nicola Padfield

About Nicola Padfield

Nicola Padfield MA, Dip Crim, DES became Master of Fitzwilliam College in October 2013. She is a Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991.

Posted in Guest posts · Master's blog

As I mentioned in my previous post, one special treat in New York was our visit to the Museum of Modern Art, at the invitation and in the company of Lotte Johnson, the Curatorial Assistant of the recently opened Gauguin exhibition entitled Metamorphoses. Lotte matriculated in Fitz in 2006 to read English but after one year switched to History of Art and has never looked back. After graduation she served an internship at MoMA, which she converted into a salaried post. This was her first major assignment, albeit under the oversight of a more senior curator.

This guest post is by Christopher Padfield (Engineering 1968).

Cover of  Gauguin: Metamorphoses, published by The Museum of Modern Art, 2014

Cover of Gauguin: Metamorphoses, published by The Museum of Modern Art, 2014

 Paul Gauguin was by any standards an oddball, even in the eccentric company of Europe’s artistic world at the end of the nineteenth century. He started work as a mariner and on release from the navy became a stockbroker and businessman in Paris. During this time he met many artists, collected their work and formed firm friendships with several who are now highly regarded. With their assistance, he started to paint. He married a Danish woman, had five children, and after suffering terribly in the financial crash of 1882, moved unsuccessfully to Denmark before returning to Paris. Strong-headed and aged nearly 40, he set about building the sort of reputation as an artist that could sustain him both critically and financially, without any formal artistic training whatever.

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Nicola Padfield

About Nicola Padfield

Nicola Padfield MA, Dip Crim, DES became Master of Fitzwilliam College in October 2013. She is a Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991.

Posted in Master's blog

We have just returned from a busy and fascinating trip to New York, centred on the Cambridge in America day last Saturday: four “Heads of Houses” gave talks in which we were encouraged to combine discussion of our college and our research. I enjoyed drawing comparisons between the population of Fitzwilliam College and the prison population in England and Wales, ruminating in particular on the nature and impact of “walls”.

Copy of 140329-406A

Photo: Don Pollard.

Christopher and I, travelling with Helen Bettinson, arrived in New York on Wednesday evening, leaving several days to meet local alumni. The first impression was of biting cold, and yet the daffodils in our garden in Cambridge are nearly over. We met many alumni, starting with a thought-provoking trip to the Gauguin exhibition at the MoMA, thanks to Lotte Johnson (English and Art History 2006) – see the next blog. Other alumni encounters brought with them my first-ever visit to a trading floor (in Goldman Sachs), thanks to an invitation to meet Peter Selman (Economics 1991); a tour of the NY Daily News, thanks to Digital Editor Ted Young (History 1980); and an interesting discussion of US prison reform with Leon Digard (Darwin College) at the Vera Institute for Justice, located in the extraordinarily flamboyant Woolworth building (1912) beside City Hall.

We also travelled in the hilariously scruffy subway train to Brooklyn to meet old friends. We had got to know two of them in 1980 in southern Senegal when we lived there, involved in the building a dam, and they were anthropologists living immersed in a Mandinka village. Their generous welcome of us in their adoptive village had made so much difference to our understanding of Africa back then, and while being 35 years older, their spirit of enquiry and quality of friendship were unchanged. We had a walk in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, designed by the creator of Manhattan’s Central Park, and following a different principle – whereas the former was intended to create the sense of intimacy of English gardens, the latter dramatically recreates an ideal English landscape. On Friday we finished the day with a hugely enjoyable dinner with a small group of alumni in the apartment of one of their number, during which those around the table were prepared to reflect humbly upon the dramatic impact that an education in a Cambridge College had had on their self-confidence and success.

The Cambridge in America Day went with gusto, with a splendid turnout of alumni and a good number of senior academics from Cambridge. The four speakers were divided into a first session of science and a second, after a short performance by the immaculate Emmanuel Choir (which includes one Fitz undergraduate!), on arts and humanities. In this second part, Geoff Ward, Principal of Homerton, led with a masterful demonstration of the carefully crafted old-fashioned lecture, exploring the New York school of poets, to a raptly attentive and often laughing audience. His legacy was a well warmed-up audience who were consequently happy to guffaw even at my weak one-liners! I talked a bit about prison-research in England, offering a few statistics here are there. Although I didn’t mention the situation in the USA, participants evidently made their own comparisons, as I was well surrounded by questioners at the break. Few alumni have had first-hand exposure to the reality of prisons run in their name, but this kind of audience, comprising predominantly very well educated and liberal-minded individuals, generally quickly understands that imprisonment on the contemporary scale doesn’t do much to reduce criminality. Anyone who followed the early postings of this blog will have noted that my reflections on Hong Kong and Singapore were concerned partly with alumni relations and partly with the legal systems of those two places. Why have I not engaged with the criminal justice system of the USA? Partly it’s the size and complexity of the country. But perhaps it is also just too daunting in other ways.

We then spent the evening in a bustling restaurant in the happy company of perhaps 37 Fitz alumni and their guests, most of whom had attended the event earlier. The Fitz community, in New York as elsewhere, is both warm and fascinating. An evening marred only by a noisy rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ which prevented me giving the speech I had anticipated. A wonderful day – should we try to replicate it around the UK?

We gave ourselves the next two days as holiday to visit other friends in New York and Connecticut. How quickly one gets out of the city into the peace and quiet of the countryside…

Nicola Padfield

About Nicola Padfield

Nicola Padfield MA, Dip Crim, DES became Master of Fitzwilliam College in October 2013. She is a Reader in Criminal and Penal Justice at the Law Faculty, University of Cambridge, and has been a Fellow of Fitzwilliam College since 1991.