The future is always uncertain. How can it not be? It depends on so many minute factors that can alter the state of our cities many years to come. But by looking at Oxford’s history, we can see how the city has fared with change and hopefully give an insight into how we will adapt, evolve, and flourish to whatever the future has to offer.
Oxford will always be a diverse community that adopts many different cultures and views into our outlook. Since the earliest Saxon times Oxford was on the border between many different kingdoms, and was an important trading hub where many peoples of different beliefs could mingle and share ideas. As we become more of a globalist society with the data revolution, this appreciation of diversity will only increase, becoming a hub not for disparate Saxon kingdoms, but for the people of the entire world.
This appreciation of ideas is written into the fabric of our city, and Oxford will never stop being a center of learning. It became the first university in England, and has continued its tradition of learning up to the present day. In a future that is all set to experience the most rapid period of technological advancement in mankind’s history, it seems like Oxford will continue to spearhead this boom of discovery. But this is not to say our city will change fundamentally, becoming a mass of steel and glass like other technologically advanced cities across the globe: this change simply isn’t in Oxford’s character.
Take a look down any street in the center of town, and this becomes obvious. Although the types of shops have changed: cafés instead of coffee houses, supermarkets instead of butchers, department stores instead of fletchers and blacksmiths, but yet these old buildings remain, changing hands like an old coat being passed down the generations. Oxford, whilst always being at the forefront of societal and technological change, is always England’s memory: a glimpse into the past. Our museums are a testament to this. The Ashmolean, Pitt Rivers and other treasure troves of past knowledge dot the city, and will continue well into the future to give us valuable insights into the past. Looking behind, yet moving forward.
This city also has a history of importance to the rest of the country. During the Civil war, when London was the capital of the Roundhead forces, King Charles I made Oxford his capital, and directed the Royalist forces. Even after its capture by the Parliamentarians, Oxford has been seen as an influence on the politics and culture of the rest of Britain, and in the future this can only increase.
The role that Oxford plays on Britain’s cultural stage cannot be overstated, as it can boast the Inklings such as Tolkien or CS Lewis, Philip Pullman or Lewis Caroll. Culture created in Oxford has always had a deep impact on the rest of Britain and the world: with the Lord of the Rings, Narnia and other such works being counted as part of our heritage. It is with anticipation and excitement that we await what will come next from Oxford, what new story will inspire us.
While it may be ill-advised to be optimistic about the future (and in light of recent events it can seem like we are going downhill) if there is anywhere that can look towards the future with hope and pride, it is Oxford. We as a city have always flourished, and although 2050 may see changes no-one can predict, we can be sure that Oxford will remain a tolerant, historic, impactful, cultural centre of learning. In short, the future looks bright.