Bedales welcomes first Philosopher in Residence

Last week Bedales entertained its first ever Philosopher in Residence. Professor Keith Ward, Emeritus Regis Professor of Divinity at Oxford University spent time speaking to and discussing philosophical questions with Bedales students.

Professor Ward is best known for his work in Philosophy of Religion, but the discussions he had were by no means all about God. Students were able to discuss such diverse topics as the nature and possibility of a utopia, whether computers could think, Kant’s ethics, religious language, the existence of evil, quantum physics and the nature of reality.

A lot of the time, Professor Ward held discussions and talks in classes, but many students also took the opportunity to come to speak to him 1:1 about their work, about university or about studying philosophy. There was also sixth form conference on Wednesday afternoon, where students from both Bedales and Churcher’s College heard about Religion and Science, as well as the relation between mind and body. Professor Ward continued with the theme of science in his Philosophy Society talk on Thursday, when he spoke on the subject of “do I have to do what my genes tell me?”, a question about how much freedom we really have given our determined genetic traits.

Students have clearly been tremendously inspired by the whole thing – it is so valuable for them to see a real philosopher at work – to examine how he thinks and to interact with him. Despite being such an eminent figure Professor Ward was very open to discussing topics students were interested in, and was scholarly without being scary. We are immensely grateful for all the work that Professor Ward did with us last week, and very much hope he will be able to visit us again soon.

View photos.

By Clare Jarmy, Head of PRE

Professor Keith Ward, Philosopher in Residence


Bedales School is one of the UK’s top independent private co-education boarding schools. Bedales comprises three schools situated in Steep, near Petersfield, Hampshire: Dunannie (ages 3–8), Dunhurst (ages 8–13) and Bedales itself (ages 13–18). Established in 1893 Bedales School puts emphasis on the Arts, Sciences, voluntary service, pastoral care, and listening to students’ views. Bedales is acclaimed for its drama, theatre, art and music. The Headmaster is Keith Budge.


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