Charles Darwin’s great insight—evolution—lies at the heart of all of biology. But it’s much more than just a biological idea. Our understanding of who we are—both as individuals and as a species—is critically informed by evolution. As such, the conceptual transformation from created-in-the-image-of-God to modified ape is surely the single most seismic shift in the history of ideas. The program offers you the the opportunity to explore Darwin’s heritage both in the classroom and in context throughout the United Kingdom.
The program is based in Oxford, a famous university town that embraces old and new. The buildings may be 700 years old, but the ideas discussed within them are twenty-first century. The presence of the past—in the college architecture, winding medieval streets, and strange, antiquated university rituals—serves as a constant reminder of what we owe to the thinkers who came before. Isaac Newton famously observed that he had seen further than other men “by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” In Oxford, you will have visceral sense of the presence of those giants.
Oxford itself played a role in the Darwinian revolution. The famous debate between Thomas Henry Huxley and Samuel Wilberforce, bishop of Oxford, took place in the university museum. It ended with Huxley’s triumphant put-down: “If then the question is put to me would I rather have a miserable ape for a grandfather or a man highly endowed by nature and possessed of great means of influence and yet who employs these faculties and that influence for the mere purpose of introducing ridicule into a grave scientific discussion, I unhesitatingly affirm my preference for the ape.”
Even during the summer break, Oxford is a lively, student-oriented city. Much of the center is restricted to pedestrians, and the area—including the university—is small enough to explore thoroughly on foot. In addition, Oxford is well linked by public transportation to London (about an hour away), making it an ideal base for activities related to the curriculum and personal exploration throughout the south of England.
You must be at least 18 years old and have completed at least one year of college or be a first-year student in good academic standing to apply.
The application materials, outlined below, are due January 28, 2016:
A completed online application (available in early December) that includes:
- A $50 nonrefundable application fee
- A statement of interest in the program, including information on relevant coursework and travel experience abroad (previous travel is not a prerequisite)
- Transcripts (student record accepted for Harvard students)
Program directors may ask for interviews.
You will be notified of admission decisions by mid-February.
There is a nonrefundable $50 application fee. The program cost includes the following:
- Room and some meals
- All scheduled excursions and extracurricular activities
In addition to the program fee, you are responsible for:
- A health insurance fee (waived if you have US insurance that provides coverage outside the United States)
- Transportation to and from Oxford
- The cost of passports and visas (if the latter is needed)
- Any immunizations
How to pay and funding options
See Funding and Payment for payment deadlines, deposit amounts, and more information, including funding options for Harvard College students.
You live in undergraduate rooms at Queen’s College, located in the medieval heart of Oxford. Accommodations are simply furnished, single-occupancy rooms. Bathroom facilities are shared. Social spaces within Queen’s are available for use. Classes take place at Queen’s College.
Contact Andrew Berry, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students with disabilities
Contact the disability services coordinator as soon as possible. See Students with Disabilities for more information.