Oxford is one of the most respected universities in the world with a rich history of educating history’s finest minds. Over time, the university has accumulated vast stores of knowledge that has largely been kept away from the public. It was not until when Dr. Kim Sung- hee, the director and co-founder of Voices from Oxford (VOX) had a different idea.
VOX is a broadcasting project run by Dr. Kim and the Balliol College at Oxford. The idea initially sparked in Dr. Kim when she thought that the knowledge throughout Oxford should be shared with the world. Some commentators refer to Kim as a “global knowledge promoter” for her pastefforts to share knowlege, and VOX is no different.
“I am delighted to be called by that title,” Dr. Kim said. “It has been my goal to be a bridge between the East and West so that knowledge and its use can be shared and developed in a cooperative way.”
The aspect that the interviewer and interviewee are from two completely different fields of expertise, such as music and politics, makes VOX unique. This way, subscribers can peek into a fusion of academics as the interviewer learns about the guests’ expertise. Dr. Kim says she got an inspiration for VOX from Alistair Cooke’s Letter from America, a BBC radio series where it takes an event, a story, or a person, and builds a broadcast around the subject.
“Fusion is precisely how we ensure comprehensibility,” Dr. Kim said. “The interviewer can easily imagine him or herself as a layperson hoping to understand.”
However, Dr. Kim’s ideas for VOX delve than that. According to her, at the heart of VOX lies the concept of “consilience,” which is the principle that evidence from independent, unrelated sources can converge on strong or similar conclusions. Dr. Kim has a particular interest in the interaction between the arts and sciences.
“A good example in which consilience was emphasized is the video that fuses Professor Frances Ashcroft’s work on electricity in the body with ideas in the literature of Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byson,” Dr. Kim said.
But these discussions do not always involve experts from two different fields. A highly popular and somewhat historic discussion was the one that took place between Richard Dawkins and Lynn Margulis, some of the world’s most renowned biologists, discussing the nature of evolution.
During VOX’s time on air, personal matters facing those in highly public roles have also made appearances on the show. In an interview by Professor Denis Noble with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and they spoke of how the intertwinement of politics and life are not as simple as they are portrayed.
Shows focused on Korean, such as Korean students at Oxford, and discussions on Korean treasures can be found on VOX as well.
Building on VOX’s original content, there are now almost 1,000 videos and recordings on VOX’s website that give the public access to lectures given at Oxford from personal interviews to major academic recordings.
From cutting-edge science to music to philosophy to politics and economics, VOX’s and Dr. Kim’s original goal of sharing Oxford’s knowledge with the world is rapidly becoming a reality. The topics of conversation get into a deeper level to inform, educate, and entertain, going against the grain of regular popular news topics.
“I hope to deliver Oxford’s knowledge to all four corners of the world through VOX,” Dr. Kim said.