Professor Ian Stewart awarded an Honorary Degree

Wednesday, Jun 29th 2005

Last Saturday, Dr Robin Wilson of the Pure Mathematics Department at the Open University presented Professor Ian Stewart for an honorary OU doctorate. The award was given to Professor Stewart in Symphony Hall, Birmingham. Ian Stewart is one of the best-known communicators and popularisers of mathematics throughout the world. A professor of mathematics at the University of Warwick, and Director of their Mathematics Awareness Centre, he is a distinguished research mathematician with over 150 published papers to his name. His interests cover many fields, and he takes a particular pleasure in attacking problems that lie in the gaps between pure and applied mathematics. Currently he is involved with investigating the effects of symmetry on dynamics, with applications to a wide variety of fields, ranging from mathematical biology (for example, the mathematics of how animals run) to electronics and chemical reactions. Ian Stewart has been involved with various Open University activities. He recorded some television programmes for M203, Introduction to Pure Mathematics, taught at several OU maths summer schools, and also presented the 1994 OU Mathematics Christmas Lecture. In all of these varied activities, he presents mathematics as something to enjoy and be enthusiastic about – as a central part of our culture that should also be great fun. In reply to the proposal, Professor Stewart said: "The Open University is unlike any other university on the planet, and not just because there are (mostly) no students on its campus. It has opened up higher education to a huge number of people who could not have attended a more conventional institution. It knows that ‘education’ involves developing people’s talents, not training them to jump through hoops and ticking boxes to record each jump."

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