Andrew Pierce Reviews Professor Brown’s Talk

Andrew Pierce, an Oxford Tradition student majoring in International Relations, has written a piece about the talk by Professor Archie Brown that was held yesterday afternoon.

In the present political climate that Oxford Tradition 2017 takes place, the views on leadership and more importantly, effective leadership have come under speculation. With many students at OxTrad interested with leadership and politics, the first lecture given by Professor Archie Brown drew a large crowd.

Titled, “The Strong Leadership Illusion in Dictatorships”, most of the talk dealt with the idea of a strong leader and the detriments of one in not only dictatorships, but also democracies. Focusing on President Trump in the U.S and Prime Minister May in the U.K, Brown states that the idea of one central person making the big decisions ultimately hurts the country and people.

Wars and events such as the Invasion of Egypt in 1956 by Britain, the Iraq War, and arguably the First World War, steamed from a central leader making a decision for the mass of people that hurt his or her country in the long run. The leader, regardless of strength or dominance, has the main purpose of persuading others to carry out policy, Brown argues. Dominating leaders, such as dictators, force others to carry out policy and close the door to any discussions.

Brown’s solution to this is to promote strong collective leadership. When the power is shared and big decisions are made by the collective, the nation, in most cases does better than a central leader. If a nation does have a central leader, he or she should promote collective power by being inclusive and flexible.

Professor Brown’s lecture sent students back contemplating the effect leaders have on society and to a greater extent, themselves as individuals.

Opening Ceremony

After a bright and early breakfast this morning, we all headed over to the Sheldonian Theatre (dodging tourists along the way) for the Opening Ceremony. After walking past the ‘faceless Caesars’, grotesque gargoyles that surround the Sheldonian, our students filled the historic building in readiness for the ceremony ahead.



Construction of the theatre began in 1664, and is the location of all official University of Oxford ceremonies, such as matriculation and graduation. In such beautiful surroundings, it would have been difficult for the students not to be inspired by Professor James Basker’s speech about the program, which highlighted the diversity of this years’ program and the excitement that each new cohort brings.



Before the faculty introduced themselves, the students showed their national pride by cheering when their country was called. We started with a strong show from the Australian contingent, and ended with an All-American bellow, but there was commendable effort from the less represented nations – a special mention to the single Cypriot who put the others to shame!



After admin team and faculty introductions (with a mysterious number of Italians claiming to be Scandinavian), students separated into their Major courses, ready for their first class!

Sheldonian Molecular Medicine Class 2017

Arrival Day Message

A message from July 2, 2017:

Dear Oxford Tradition Families,

I am pleased to tell you that all of our students who we were expecting to greet today in the UK have safely arrived.

Our students spent this warm and sunny summer afternoon touring their colleges, and Oxford, and then attended a reception in the elegant Cloisters of Corpus, and on the great lawn of Chapel Quad at Pembroke, followed by dinner in the dining hall of their college.

Tomorrow morning we will convene in the magnificent 17th century Sheldonian Theatre, designed by Christopher Wren, to begin the 2017 class of The Oxford Tradition.

Also, if you are sending mail to your student, please make sure that it clearly addressed to:



c/o The Oxford Tradition

Corpus Christ College

Merton Street

Oxford OX1 4JF



c/o The Oxford Tradition

Pembroke College

Pembroke Square

Oxford OX1 1DW


Once again, our Corpus Program Office number is +44 1865 286295, and our Pembroke Program Office number is +44 1865 276427.

I will be in touch again via email and here on our blog, where you can follow our adventure.

And until then, we send you all the best from Oxford.

Michael McKinley
The Oxford Tradition

Pembroke and Corpus Christi Colleges, Oxford

Meet the Rest of the Team!


Michael McKinley is Director of The Oxford Tradition. A Vancouver native, he was educated at the University of British Columbia, and St John’s College, Oxford. He has won national newswriting awards and written a best-selling novella, in addition to writing and producing several documentaries – including the six-part CNN series Finding Jesus, for which Michael also co-wrote the companion book. He has three TV drama pilots in development, and has just completed The Glamour of Evil, the first in his series of Vatican spy novels. Michael’s favourite place in Oxford is Oxford.

“I don’t mean that facetiously– the place had me at hello, as they say, and it’s a great pleasure and privilege to be able to return here each summer to bask in its splendour.”



Larry Klein is Associate Director, and he assures me that there is nothing interesting about him. Like any parent, Larry claims that he likes the two program offices equally, but I suspect that the Pembroke office is secretly his favourite (no bias).



Lauren Alexander is an Executive Coordinator, and is often a clown in the Macy’s Thanksgiving day parade (a big deal). On her time off, she loves to eat at The Grand Café, which claims to be the oldest coffee house in England.



Justin Bangs is an Executive Coordinator, and has over a decade of experience teaching and serving as an administrator with Oxbridge Academic Programs, but this is his first summer with Oxbridge in Oxford. He is thrilled to experience this magical city and his favourite spot is already Blackwell’s, the famed bookshop.



Rob Collopy is an Executive Coordinator. He studied History and Economics at New College, and appropriately his favourite place in Oxford is the New College cloisters.



Sian Heap is the Financial Officer. She worked at the famed Blackwell’s for a year, and is always happy to talk about books! When exploring the city, you will probably bump into her at Ben’s Cookies at the Covered Market. There is no guilt in that pleasure.



Melissa Adams is a Program Dean, and very impressively she sang the national anthem at a Washington Capitals game. She likes to indulge in a walk around Christchurch meadow.



Edmund Herlihy is a Program Dean who used to be able to faint on command. He probably still can, but is trying to avoid students abusing his powers. He recommends a climb to the top of St Mary’s tower, for a beautiful view of the whole city and a 9/10 Instagram of the Radcliffe Camera library.



Jim Seaha is a Program Dean. Jim almost made it to EverSpace camp! If you follow Edmund’s advice, you may see Jim on the street below, since the Radcliffe Camera library is his favourite place in Oxford.



Adam Frye is a Program Dean with a passion and knowledge of Manga, and he encourages you to talk to him about it/allow him to convert you to it. He thinks that you should all know that telling any college that you’re a prospective student means that they will let you in for free.



Stewart Brown is a Program Dean. Being a football coach, it would be a good idea to get him on your team whenever a friendly game starts. He enjoys jogging along the Isis river walk.



Claire Staples is a Program Dean, and she used to work on The Cambridge Tradition – this being her first year at The Oxford Tradition. Corpus Christi is her favourite place in Oxford, which is very helpful given that is where she will be working!

Packing and Arrival Advice


  • Ensure that you bring your passport, as well as the border control letter provided to you by Oxbridge Academic Programs. Keep these documents on you at all times when travelling.
  • Try to use the smallest suitcase that you can, and not to over-pack! You will be carrying your own luggage in the airport, out to the coaches going to Oxford, and in the (sometimes winding) corridors and staircases of Pembroke and Corpus Christi colleges. There are inexpensive laundry facilities, so there is no point in bringing enough clothes for a month!
  • There is a reason why the British always talk about the weather! The weather in Oxford will vary quite a lot over the month, and across each day. It gets chilly in the evenings, and the sun comes and goes in summer. So pack clothes for hot and cold weather, and ideally a jacket for the rain and a hat for harsh sun.
  • Phone chargers and plug adaptors are essential. If you forget to pack a plug adaptor, you will be able to buy one at the airport.
  • We recommend bringing comfortable shoes to wear when travelling and on the day trips, as there will be a lot of walking.
  • Having had a look at what the Activities Directors ( are planning, it would be a good idea to bring a sports kit, or clothes you are happy to run around and get messy in!
  • It would also be a good idea to pack a slightly smarter outfit or two for the Closing Ceremony and the Bops.
  • Bring medicines and glasses/contact lenses, and any other essential things you need. You can bring toiletries, but there are a plethora of nearby shops that you can buy them from.
  • You will NOT need linen and towels, as the colleges provide these.
  • Bring a sense of adventure!


Your Arrival

  • When you arrive in England you’ll go through customs (the queues are often quite long!) and then continue to “Baggage Reclaim” to collect your luggage – information will be provided on overhead screens where carousels are located.
  • After you’ve collected your bags, walk out of the luggage collection space and into the international arrivals lobby. There will be a staff member holding a sign that reads, “The Oxford Tradition” on it – that’s us! Come over and introduce yourself and from then we will sort everything out.
  • You might have to wait for a little while after you join the team in Arrivals, as we will be collecting students from lots of different flights. Please be patient and follow the directions of your team leader.
  • From the airport, we will travel by coach or private car to Oxford; this takes approximately two hours from Stansted Airport, one and a half hours from Heathrow Airport, and one hour and fifteen minutes from Gatwick Airport (all these times are approximations and travel dependent).


Frequently Asked Questions

1) Do you suggest we use a credit card or cash?

You should be able to use your credit card in town. There are some food carts or stalls in the market that might insist upon cash. There are cash machines all around Oxford. We suggest you check with your bank ahead of time to find out if they have partnerships with banks here, in order to lessen transaction fees.

2) Where is the nearest bank machine and shops?

There is are multiple bank machines within a five-minute walk from either college. Both colleges are situated right in the centre of Oxford, so you will be very close to supermarkets and all other shops you may need.

3) What are the daily activities after the major and minor classes?

The Activities Directors will be putting on a packed program!You will never be bored here; from sports to art and crafts, as well as punting, there will be loads of great activities to do in the afternoons, evenings and weekends with your new friends!

4) Will there be any WiFi access?

Yes, we will give further instructions about this when you arrive.


Have a great journey, and we can’t wait to see you all on Sunday!

Getting Ready For Your Arrival!

The admin team are busy bees preparing for the students’ arrival, having spent the afternoon assembling their welcome packs and adding some final touches to the Pembroke office (read: stocking up the mini-fridge).

The welcome pack gives our students all the information they need to know about their college, the program, and Oxford itself, including a restaurant guide that somehow missed out Jeong’s Dosirak in the Covered Market. Be sure to read it!


Welcome, Faculty!

Yesterday evening we welcomed the 2017 faculty cohort to The Oxford Tradition with a meeting, followed by food and drinks in Pembroke Hall. The meeting was led by Professor Jim Basker, founder of the program, who took the opportunity to remind the faculty that The Oxford Tradition is a transformative point in the lives of many students. With pride, Professor Basker told us of the successful careers past students have gone onto lead after their inspirational time with the program. Indeed Dr Nick Chan, who will be teaching the International Relations course this year, attended The Cambridge Tradition in his youth.

Faculty members and the administrative team then introduced themselves in turn, and we discovered just how talented they are! Watch out for Julie Bolitho, who will be teaching the Creative Writing course – she is a yoga expert, and will be leading a group session at some point in the program.

We are all here to support and promote the intellectual independence and academic commitment of our students, and having met everyone, it is safe to say this aim will be a success!


Welcome to Pembroke College!

Pembroke college may have been founded in 1624, but it keeps one eye on the future. One of the first things that our student residents will notice about Pembroke is the striking complex of modern buildings that can be found after walking through the ‘Chapel Quad’. Amongst other things they contain the Farthings café, which we suspect the students will become intimately familiar with.

It is certainly a good thing that Pembroke has made renovations. Up until the Second World War, it only had one bathroom – thankfully, this is no longer the case.

The current Master of the College is Dame Lynne Brindley, former head of the British Library. Notable alumni include JRR Tolkien and Sir Roger Bannister, the first man the run a sub 4-minute mile. This sporting legacy remains, with Pembroke college renowned for its prowess in rowing, its boats regularly winning headships and blades.

The admin team at Pembroke looks forward to welcoming our student residents!

Welcome to Corpus Christi College!

Corpus Christi college is one of the smaller colleges, with around 340 students during term, and it is renowned throughout Oxford for its gorgeous buildings and strength in traditional subjects such as Classics.

But this isn’t to say that Corpus Christi isn’t constantly evolving. The current President of the college is Steven Cowley, internationally acclaimed theoretical physicist and the first scientist to hold the position since Corpus Christi was founded in 1517.

These credentials aside, mention Corpus Christi to an Oxford student and the first thing they would think of would most likely be the ‘Tortoise Fair’, an annual charity event where Corpus tortoises are raced against tortoises from rival colleges. With college pride at stake, this is one of the most highly anticipated sporting events in the Oxford calendar.

We are certain those students resident at Corpus Christi college will treasure their stay!

Meet the 2017 Program Assistants!

Program assistants work behind the scenes to ensure that the program runs smoothly, and though we won’t be involved in running activities we will have a lot of contact with students. The students will see us each morning and evening for check-in and check-out, whenever the faculty require our help, and if the students need to report a problem or illness, amongst other things.



Toby studies Physics at Merton College. He assures us that he has lived in thirteen houses in three countries over the course of his life, and like Fiona, is a secret Australian. He is a member of the Oxford University Cycling Club, and when he isn’t on two wheels Toby enjoys a stroll around Port Meadow.



Maddy studied French at St John’s College, Oxford, and has just finished a MPhil in European Literature at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. She plays the accordion, with a soft spot for performing at ceilidhs, Gaelic social events with folk music, traditional dancing, and storytelling. Maddy can often be found enjoying University Parks.



Jack studies Biomedical Sciences (Cells and Systems Biology) at St Hugh’s College. His greatest passions are neuroscience and poetry (sometimes in an exhilarating mash-up), and has climbed the tallest mountain in South Korea. Though he is partial to Jeong’s Dosirak in the Covered Market, he would have to name the Botanic Gardens his favourite part of Oxford.



Roisin studies Philosophy and Theology at Worcester College. As students will likely find out, she is an Ultimate Frisbee fiend. Roisin plays at university level, and students should try to squeeze as many hints and tips from her as possible while at The Oxford Tradition. She has strong feelings about the Pitt Rivers museum, and thinks that a visit to Oxford is incomplete without it.



Oliver studies Ancient and Modern History at Somerville College, and is very clear that this does not mean he studies the entirety of History – he doesn’t like the periods in the middle. Oliver claims to be a beginner in Latin and Ballroom dance, but we suspect that he is being modest. The truth will come out at the bops. Oliver suggests a visit to Thaikhun restaurant if the students want an authentic Thai street-food experience.



Theo studies Classics at Lady Margaret Hall, and has been confirmed by multiple independent sources to be Radiohead’s biggest fan. He didn’t tell us his favourite place in Oxford, but given the well-stocked sweet and crisp supplies at the Corpus Christi office, it will likely be there.



Gabby studies Chemistry at Wadham College, and has fulfilled every Wadham stereotype by being a very nice person and a diligent vegetarian. She is a Grade 1 jazz dancer, and finds a lot of happiness in the half-price Tapas at Kazbar before 6pm.