Darwin is a supportive, informal community in which graduate students, researchers and Fellows meet together academically and socially, so as to enrich and enlarge their scholarship and personal experiences, and to form lifelong connections and friendships. Unusually in Cambridge, Darwin has no undergraduate students: our College is informal and inter-disciplinary.
Founded in 1964 in Newnham Grange, the family home of Charles Darwin's son and grandson, we were the University of Cambridge’s first graduate-only College and the first College to admit both men and women. Today we are one of the larger Colleges. Darwin College is a very special community, with our lovely garden and quiet Study Centre counterbalanced by the busy Dining Hall and exuberant DarBar. Situated centrally, close to many of the University departments (and on a convenient bus route to those further away), Darwin delights in peaceful hidden gardens with the river and islands, as well as our own punts, kayaks and canoe.
The Colleges are one of Cambridge's strengths, academic communities that cross the disciplines. Every student is a member of a College that has responsibility for welfare, providing accommodation and a social home, while the University and College have joint responsibility for academic performance. Darwin College has 65 Fellows who hold faculty or research positions in the University and associated institutes, and about 650 students who come from the UK and some 70 other countries. Our students study for PhDs and Masters degrees in disciplines spanning the whole spectrum from Anglo-Saxon to Zoology. Darwin College fosters an informal and egalitarian atmosphere for this multi-disciplinary, international community. Students and Fellows meet and talk at academic get-togethers and seminars, over meals and at social and sporting events and in running the annual Darwin College Lecture Series (a major public event with luminary speakers every week of the Lent Term). Unlike most other Colleges our students and Fellows are not segregated (we don’t have a High Table) and students are members of many of the College’s governing committees.
Whether it's spending long hours on some recalcitrant analytical instrument, or struggling over an obscure text in an ancient language, Darwinians don't do extraordinary things because they are trying to be extraordinary – but because the puzzles are there and deserve to be studied. In my travels during the College’s 50th anniversary year alumni have told me again and again how influential their time at Darwin was, how hard they worked, how Fellows went out of their way to help, how they made life-long friendships and also how much fun they had. Our members excel in their disciplines – many in our fellowship are Fellows of the Royal Society, the Royal Academy of Medicine, the Royal Academy of Engineering the British Academy, or hold other high honours – and we celebrate the careers of our alumni in public life, education, business, research and the arts right across the world. There are already two Nobel Prize winners amongst our members: alumna Elizabeth Blackburn, for her work on telomerase, and our Fellow, the late César Milstein, for monoclonal antibodies. Milstein said "Science will only fulfil its promises when the benefits are equally shared by the really poor of the world". That's true of all our knowledge, not just science.
Professor Mary Fowler