Jul 05 2017

Back in the summer of 2015, the world marked the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta. Many high profile guests from around the world, including Her Majesty The Queen, attended a special ceremony on Runnymede Meadows to mark the momentous occasion, and we held a variety of celebratory events on campus, including the Great Charter Festival.
Since then, we have continued to protect and uphold the principles of personal liberty and freedom through our teaching, whilst also encouraging debate about how they can be best applied in today’s world. From our annual Magna Carta lectures to the Magna Carta Doctoral Centre, we are proud to provide students, staff, alumni and guests with opportunities to explore the ideas of privacy and individual rights in light of modern challenges.

Most significantly this year, our College launched the Citizens project, which is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund. By creating digital resources and community engagement activities focused on exploring the history of liberty, protest and reform, Citizens aims to provide ways for people to consider what it means to be a citizen today, and the responsibilities we all carry for the future.

Over the past few months, and in collaboration with partners from the People’s History Museum to the Parliamentary Archives, the Citizens team has been busy. They have been creating the first batch of video-based resources for schools, filming content for Royal Holloway’s upcoming Women’s Suffrage MOOC with Parliament, organising the Festival of History, and setting up paid internships for our students. You can watch the first videos, which focus on Magna Carta and the Peterloo Massacre online. These resources have been applauded by the AQA exam board and the History of Parliament, and showcase Royal Holloway to a new generation of prospective students. 

Thank you to everyone who is working to continue to develop our Magna Carta legacy. In light of the legal, moral and technological dimensions associated with personal freedom in the digital age, it is more important than ever that we keep alive a debate begun 800 years ago on our doorstep. If you’d like to stay up to date with the Citizens project, follow the project on Twitter @Citizens800 or visit the Citizens microsite.

Professor Paul Layzell