Discover how you can keep connected to Cambridge from the comfort of your home.
Whether we graduated a few years ago or a few decades ago, the desire for learning and intellectual curiosity keeps us together.
Trish Mullen (Downing 1998), Cambridge Society of Victoria
During the last 12 months, we have all had to adapt to a new reality – one of social distancing, face masks and video calls. Ordinary activities like planning a holiday, going to the cinema or perhaps returning to Cambridge for a punt along the Backs, seem to belong to another time. However, the current ‘new normal’ has provided the University with an opportunity to look at new ways of connecting with you, wherever you are around the globe.
“Just as everyone else has had to adapt, so we too have had to adapt – but our top priority, to help you retain your lifelong connection to Cambridge, remains the same”, says Bruce Mortimer, Director of Alumni Engagement and Events. “In the 2019 Alumni Survey you told us that you wanted more opportunities to connect with Cambridge and we are committed to continue achieving that, even if these connections have to be made virtually rather than physically.
“That’s why we’ve created a single destination (www.alumni.cam.ac.uk/digital) where you can find all the digital resources available to you including podcasts, Departmental webinars, help with home-schooling, journals, virtual tours and ways to connect with your College. Not to mention our website for the alumni magazine, CAM, to give you even more ways of learning the latest in Cambridge thinking.”
“Central to the ethos of our programme for alumni is the idea that your time spent studying at Cambridge is just the beginning of a lifelong journey of learning with the Collegiate University,” says Mortimer. “This is why we’re always looking to give alumni the opportunity to hear from leading academics on the most important issues of the day.”
In 2020, the University launched a brand-new webinar series, Cambridge Conversations, which features leading academics speaking on a myriad of topics with the chance to participate in real-time Q&A sessions.
September usually sees thousands of alumni returning to Cambridge for College reunions and the Alumni Festival. Last year the Festival turned 30. To celebrate, the Collegiate University organised over 100 sessions spanning 10 days which saw over 30,000 session registrations. More than 7,500 alumni and guests registered from 127 different countries. The Festival’s playlist can be found on our YouTube channel.
Some of the latest editions to the collection of University podcasts include Fitzwilliam Museum podcasts which sees the Museum conversing about their collections, Thoughtlines, from The Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) - the place where people gather to ask the big questions on who we are and why we live the way we do. Mind Over Chatter, which focuses on breaking down complex issues into simple questions..
Margaret Campbell (Newnham 1966), Chair of the Alumni Advisory Board says: “At this moment, when we find ourselves limited to our homes, our towns, or the borders of our country, it is easy to feel that somehow our lives have become more limited, but we must remember that there is no restriction on our imagination and our curiosity. Let us take this opportunity to get a better understanding of the world and be entertained and inspired by the online resources available to alumni.”
A question of time
Individual circumstances mean our experiences of this time of change may look very different. While some alumni may be busier than ever juggling childcare alongside their job, others may have much more time on their hands than they would wish.
The University has always aimed to be a place that inspires and engages with everyone – from age three to 93. As such, Departments, Faculties and museums across the University have created a number of a resources to help with home-schooling. You can find all these resources along with advice on home-schooling from the Faculty of Education on the alumni website.
For others, now may be the perfect time to pursue your own research interests or invest in professional development. As alumni you have access to a wide range of journals and can access CAMcard discounts on a number of courses.
In it together
Alumni Groups have long been vital to sustaining the life of the alumni community around the world. Today it is no different, and with many successfully taking up the challenge to engage their local alumni in new ways, they are more important than ever before.
Trish Mullen (Downing 1998) who looks after communications for the Cambridge Society of Victoria, explains how she brought alumni together despite not being able to meet in person: “We sent out a ‘digital care package for the brain’ – the most popular link was to Cambridge Conversations!
“At a time when there are millions of options for online events or activities, it is interesting that we are all drawn back to Cambridge. Whether we graduated a few years ago or a few decades ago, the desire for learning and intellectual curiosity keeps us together.”
You can visit our website to find out what digital activities your local Alumni Group is hosting.
Colleges, museums and more
Colleges have always been key to the Cambridge experience and are often where the firmest of friendships are made. Many Colleges have created a range of online resources to help you stay connected to your College community. These range from updates on College pets, to choir performances, to tours of the gardens.
Matthew Moss (St John's 1990), Director of External Relations and Development at Homerton, describes how they have attempted to “replicate the intellectual breadth and serendipity of a Cambridge College in noughts and ones” through the Homersphere, a website to keep the dispersed community together.
"Lockdown has tried hard to kill serendipity, but that’s the whole reason Colleges are such brilliant inventions, so we're not taking it lying down,” says Moss. “The Homersphere is an online-only magazine – articles, audio and video too – by our researchers, written for students and alumni. It offers topics from VE Day to AI via David Foster Wallace, the foundation of Israel, Boris Johnson's Churchillian rhetoric, and the risks of DIY plumbing in a pandemic. Come for the poetry, stay for the mad painting of non-crepuscularity in the tropics. Learn something you didn't intend."
And finally, until the University can welcome you back in person, don’t forget you can still visit Cambridge virtually. Although the days of wandering around the Fitzwilliam Museum or strolling through a college forecourt feel a far cry from our present-day reality, there are plenty of virtual tours of the University, Colleges, museums and gardens online, so you can still take that trip down memory lane wherever you may be in the world.
Browse the online resources available to you as alumni.