London: In a significant decision, Oxford University has decided to change the name of one of its oldest departments.
The Faculty of Oriental Studies, which was founded in the 19th century, will now be called Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.
But what compelled the authorities to take such a significant step?
According to a report in The Daily Mail, there are concerns that ‘Oriental Studies’ could be derogatory to racial or ethnic minorities.
Scholars of the faculty felt that the word ‘Oriental’ in the name reflected British colonialism.
The chairman of the faculty board David Rechter, Professor of Modern Jewish history, is confident that the change is in the right direction.
“Many considered the word ‘Oriental’ to be inappropriate and, while the change will not affect what the faculty researches and teaches, it does better reflect the breadth and diversity of the academic activity in the faculty,” he was quoted as saying by The Daily Mail.
It wasn’t a straightforward decision and was finalized only after the University held “extensive conversations” with students, staff, alumni, besides conducting three surveys. The entire process took two years.