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Gordon Brown says the OU is a "national treasure”

Gordon Brown “At fifty years old, what The Open University has done is blend maturity with fresh ideas and it’s right that we celebrate it…The OU is one of our national treasures.”

So said former OU associate lecturer – and Prime Minister – The Rt Hon Gordon Brown, addressing guests at an OU reception at the Edinburgh International Book Festival in August 2019, having just chaired a discussion at the Festival with Professor John Sexton of New York University on the theme of ‘knowledge as resistance’. 

The discussion was part of the Festival’s OU 50th Anniversary Series, a major strand of programming co-curated and supported by the OU in Scotland.

 Gordon Brown, Carrie Gracie, Benjamin Zephaniah, Val McDermid, Daniel Shand, Catherine SimpsonThe Series featured an event with author and honorary graduate Val McDermid – who spoke of her fondness for the OU - and included events with fellow authors OU honorary graduate Benjamin Zephaniah, former OU staff member Daniel Shand, OU alumnus Catherine Simpson and gender pay gap campaigner and former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie.  

Additionally, Susan Stewart, Director of the OU in Scotland, chaired an event with authors Sian Reynolds and Sara Sheridan on their books about significant previously unacknowledged women in Scotland’s history. 

Two OU in Scotland team members did a ‘takeover’ of the Book Festival’s Instagram account, documenting a day behind the scenes of the Festival, and there was an OU book bay in the Festival’s bookshop.

Our partnership with the Book Festival forms part of our knowledge exchange activities, funded by the Scottish Funding Council, and – as Festival Director Nick Barley told Gordon Brown and Prof Sexton’s audience – is based on shared values of access and inclusion.


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