Launch of Porter Centre for Diplomacy
25 March 2022
This week we celebrated the launch of the new Porter Centre for Diplomacy with an event bringing together guests from the worlds of academia, law, diplomacy, journalism, technology and the military to work on the peace-making initiatives of the future.
In October 2021 we launched a landmark partnership with the John Porter Charitable Foundation whose transformational donation of £25m is the largest ever made to Hertford. Working with John before his death in late 2021, we identified two key areas for the partnership. The first is the construction of the John Porter Graduate Centre, which will combine the best of sustainable contemporary design with Hertford’s record as a pioneer of educational opportunity to offer accommodation to all of our graduates. The second is a wish to make a practical impact on peace-making through the establishment of the Porter Centre for Diplomacy.
The Porter Centre for Diplomacy is a key part of our Hertford 2030 aspiration to prepare students for life, work and citizenship, and to be a frontline for a better society. It aims to make a practical contribution to the great peace processes of the 21st century, from stability in the Middle East to climate change, and from reform of the international architecture to the challenges and opportunities of emerging technologies. It will support scholarships, research, innovation and practical peace-making.
The centre will focus in its first phase on three areas of work:
- ‘Head, Hand and Hertford’ programme – This innovative new two-week course will help undergraduates develop life skills that are often missing from a formal academic education, as part of their preparation for life, work and citizenship. The first cohort have spent the past two weeks working together on leadership, impact and purpose. The Porter Centre will also provide a base and financial support for the new Oxford Diplomatic Society, which already counts more than 700 members.
- Supporting less advantaged international students – In line with John’s wish to open up access to Oxford, we will support two graduate scholarships in the MSc programmes of Global Governance & Diplomacy and Refugee Studies & Forced Migration. We have also agreed a project with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees and Na’amal to improve access to Oxford for high potential refugee students. As part of our commitment, Hertford will work towards becoming a certified college of sanctuary.
- Research on the peace processes of the future – The centre will convene projects and events to understand the vital peace processes of the 21st century. Working with former UN Envoy Bernardino Leon, former EU High Representative Baroness Cathy Ashton, and former FCO/DFID Minister Alistair Burt, we will identify where research and practical preparation can help the international community to respond to tomorrow’s regional peace processes. We will also work with external advisors, academics, alumni and students to guide our work on the role of women, of business, and of soft power in peace-making, and on the peace processes between humans and the planet, technology, and our shared histories.