Dr. Michael Spivey, a sociology professor at The University of North Carolina at Pembroke, attended the Oxford Round Table this spring at Oxford University, England.
There were 50 invitees, representing many of the most prestigious universities in the world. Dr. Spivey, a sociologist, was the only representative from North Carolina and UNC system. A native of McColl, S.C., Dr. Spivey joined UNCP’s faculty in 1999 and is author of the book “Native Americans in the Carolina Borderlands: A Critical Ethnography” (Carolinas Press, 2000).”
Dr. Spivey was housed at, ironically, Pembroke College (established 1624), which is one of the 39 colleges of Oxford University. Each college has its own dormitories, dining halls and chapel. Pembroke is one of the smaller colleges and is surrounded by stonewalls, with two scenic quads.
A couple of famous students and fellows at Pembroke College were U.S. Senator William Fulbright and J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbit” and “The Lord of the Rings.”
“We lived in the dorms, just like the students,” Dr. Spivey said. “We left each morning after breakfast for the Oxford Debating Hall, where we spent the day discussing issues and presenting ideas which revolved around the educational and social consequences of poverty.”
“I've never been involved in a more intense set of debates and sharing of ideas than at the Oxford Round Table,” he said. “Many of us have already contacted each other since the conference and have expressed how life-changing the whole affair was. It is certainly one of the highlights of my academic career.”
Each year, the Round Table invites discussants from around the world to come together for discussion and debate in a think-tank atmosphere on a specific topic related to educational and social issues. The invitation process is never revealed to the members, even after attending the conference. There is a formal dinner at the close of the conference and members are presented with a certificate of membership into the Oxford Round Table.
“I made a presentation on issues of poverty and job loss in Robeson County and the many programs that have been created in our county to find solutions, such as the Center For Community Action in Lumberton,” Dr. Spivey said. “Many of the members of the Round Table were impressed with the creative strategies being developed in Robeson County.’
“Finally, I feel that being selected to be a member of the Oxford Round Table has expanded my view of the importance of the work we sociologists are doing in the academy and in our communities, and it has provided insights and a network of ideas that will enhance both my research and the content of my classes for years to come,” he said.
Dr. Spivey may be contacted at 910.521.6776 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.