Oxford reflections, what to see and do

by Graduate Theological Foundation • September 29, 2014

The Oxford Experience…Think About It!

by James Keating, Ed.D. (2004)
2014 Oxford Foundation Fellow

Cotswold Mill is an old mill in the countryside. Many of the towns in the Cotswolds—North of Oxford and the Chilton Hills, Southeast of Oxford—are beautifully preserved and are the kinds of villages most people think of when they think of the English Countryside.

Study and work at Oxford is profoundly enriching and, of course, unforgettable. I want to encourage all students to think about going to England for the experience. The university section of the city (the central part) is easily walk-able and for those who reside off campus, the bus system is wonderfully efficient with buses running every 7-10 minutes on all routes during the daytime and about every 20 minutes all night. Depending upon how long you stay, bus passes are inexpensive and easy to use.


The country church is in Hampnet and I’ll write more about it in a future blog. It doesn’t seem unique from the outside but the interior of this tiny church is quite quirky and includes architectural elements from a number of continents and cultures—all cheerfully mismatched!

If you bring family they will never be bored! There are many things to do in the Oxford area. The Cotswold countryside and Chilton Hills are neighboring regions less than an hour from Oxford. They are easily accessible and have charming villages filled with wonderfully preserved architecture, including homes, town centers, markets, and churches up to 1,000 years old! For Shakespeare fans, Stratford-upon-Avon is only an hour away. London, the center of everything, is about 80 minutes away on the bus, which leaves every 15 minutes. And in Oxford itself, the gardens are stunning and the colleges are beautiful, historic, and rewarding to visit — with some claiming a history to the 12th century and most of them older than 400 years.


British Museum (London). Very popular destination and wonderfully organized. Like almost all British Museums, it is free. Also free are the National Gallery, the Tate, and the Ashmolean in Oxford.

My experience in the summer, 2014 was with the Oxford Foundation Fellowship. I was able to work three weeks at the Bodleian Library, one of the premier research facilities in the world. My work was in the history of the English language as it developed through the 15th and 16th century English language Psalters. I found my time in the library, both the old Bodleian and also in the picturesque Radcliffe Camera, was both rewarding and inspiring. My saddest experience was the day I finally had to say good-bye to the library!


Illuminated text—the beautiful art work in some older manuscripts and even early printed documents is stunning. This example was in Oxford.

During my time there, I was able to do a good deal of background research, which will be very helpful as I develop conclusions based on the material I found. Moreover, I was able to make excellent connections between the biblical texts (Psalms) and the historical and literary merits of the texts themselves. I was fortunate to find that the Ashmolean Museum, a five minute walk from the library, had several paintings that were helpful in my efforts to establish the artistic applications of biblical principles.


Stained glass is everywhere in England and depicts wonderful historical and biblical scenes.

Perhaps the Oxford experience may not be for everyone, but it is the kind of thing that helps students and researchers use unique facilities and develop their own academic pathways in a manner unavailable almost anywhere else. What you learn by experiencing Oxford is something intangible that supplements and goes beyond what we can find in books by themselves. And one additional point: Being in Oxford with fellow students means you have the chance to meet people from around the world. These connections, academic and personal, make the Oxford experience one of the most rewarding events along the degree path. I’d urge everyone to consider it!

About Dr. James Keating

FN-alum-photo-KeatingJim graduated from the GTF in 2004 with the Ed.D. and is an instructor at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana where he teaches classes in composition.  Twice he participated in the Oxford program.  He has written several articles for academic publications mostly related specifically to pedagogy.  He works with a number of community service organizations including Sociedad Amigos de Colombia, The Lamp of Wisdom, DAR, and the Children’s Dyslexia Center.  He is active in a number of service activities at church and in his community.  He is a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Phi Beta Delta and is a faculty advisor to the latter organization.

He has contributed articles to the GTF blog previously, including a post about his advice for GTF students going to Oxford and a reflection on his experiences during the Oxford Theology Summer School.

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