Social Psychology Has A Day Trip

Our Social Psychology students headed over to Blenheim Palace yesterday, the beautiful country house located just outside of Oxford.

This historic building was built between 1705 and 1722, and it notable for even having the title of palace. Such titles are usually reserved for royal or religious homes, but Blenheim Palace is grand enough to be awarded one though it is neither. Indeed, the stately home has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, alongside Stonehenge and the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Built for John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, to celebrate a victory over the French, the palace remained with the Churchill family for 300 years – including Sir Winston Churchill!

Day At The Museum

The Social Psychologists visited the Pitt-Rivers museum, an astounding collection attached to Oxford University Museum of Natural History, the site of the first debate on the Theory of Evolution. The discussion took place primarily between Thomas Huxley, a proponent for Darwin’s theory, and Bishop Samuel Wilberforce.

They then joined forces with the Neuropsychology major at Christ Church Meadow, to play the Man on the Moon logic game.

Martian Morals

The Social Psychology class took time out of the classroom recently, to discuss what a human society might look like on Mars. The moral values of such a society would be molded by its isolation from Earth, the difficulty of obtaining essential resources such as water and oxygen, and the likely necessity for population control.

How might the moral values of such a society change over time, from initial colonisation to being an established colony?

An exciting thought experiment!

The Student Is Present

Today the Social Psychology major explored and replicated Marina Abramović’s iconic performance art piece, The Artist Is Present.

This piece ran in the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, from March to May 2016. Across this period, the artist spent 736 and a half hours making direct eye contact with members of the public. Some cried, some laughed, some were impassive. The most beautiful moment of the performance came when Ulay, Abramović’s former lover, surprised her with his presence.

The class explored what happens when you look into someone else’s eyes for 2 minutes…

In other news…

‘What Newspapers Can’t Tell Us: Eighteenth-Century Religious Conflict’

Students from the Terrorism and Global Politics class were treated to a talk delivered by Carys Brown. Carys’ speech involved a discussion of images from the eighteenth century press and addressed how these images tell misleading stories about what life was really like for religious minorities, and the way historians have interpreted them. Carys is a graduate of the University of Cambridge and is studying towards a PhD on religious coexistence in eighteenth-century England at St John’s College.

The Engineering students went out on a field trip this morning; carried in a specially organised punt along the River Cam and taking some measurements of the bridges so they can perform a structural assessment.

Meanwhile, the Social Psychology class had fun playing Freud’s ‘id, ego, and superego’ model this morning. Id, ego, and super-ego are the three parts of the psychic apparatus defined in Sigmund Freud’s structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction our mental life is described. According to this model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual trends; the super-ego plays the critical and moralising role; and the ego is the organized, realistic part that mediates between the desires of the id and the super-ego. The super-ego can stop one from doing certain things that one’s id may want to do.

A night-time visit from a furry friend

Dean Bill answered the wishes of some of our students by catching a hedgehog in the Peterhouse undergrowth. The hedgehog was duly admired by awestruck students before being released back into the wild. Note: no hedgehogs were harmed in the making of this blog post.

Criminals, Spies, Hollywood Directors and Budding Engineers

Despite yesterday’s excitement, there is no rest for our busy CamPreppers! This morning they have once again been hard at work in their major classes, and have been getting up to some exciting and innovative things.

We took a visit to the International Espionage class, where the teacher Constantine had the the students laughing at his stories about spies. In English Literature, there was a slightly calmer atmosphere, as the students delved deep into Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Meanwhile,  Suzie’s Social Psychology class carried out some conformity studies (standing out by wearing strange clothes) in Cambridge’s ancient Market Square.

Fergus and Lauren, two of our PAs, were then assessed to see if they were criminals over in the Criminology class. Using a Victorian technique, the students measured their arm span, the gap between their toes and their armpit temperature, and compared their faces to those of known criminals. They also assessed whether our PAs’ signatures were like to those of criminals and whether they had the typical facial or palm features of a criminal. You will be pleased to know that Lauren is not a criminal, although Fergus was found to be distinctly suspicious!

We also bumped into Jesse and his Film-making class, who were in the process of writing scripts and testing shots. Jesse was assisting a pair of students outside as they learned the best way to shoot a conversation and a person entering a building. The group inside was hard at work writing and editing a script which they will later turn into a film.

And finally the engineers were working hard in the Deer Park to create a domed structure out of bamboo. A guest speaker, Martha Godina, helped the students to created a grid out of bamboo canes and raise this into a dome under which they could stand. Using rope,s they tied the corners together to hold it permanently in a dome shape. Sadly it had had to be dismantled, but it was a very impressive structure, as you can see.

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After all this, the whole program then convened in Old Court to have a program photo taken on the usually sacrosanct grass. Watch this space later for more photos of this afternoon’s activities!