Dr James Martin, Founder (1933-2013)

For 25 years James Martin was the highest-selling author of books on computing and related technology. He published 67 textbooks with Prentice-Hall, the world’s leading textbook publisher. The revenue from this and associated lectures and videos provided the funds for establishing the Oxford Martin School at Oxford University – the largest benefaction to Oxford in its almost 900-year history. Martin wrote a record number of textbooks – 104, many of which have been seminal in their field. Martin was renowned for his electrifying lectures about the future.

Martin’s vision was that the Oxford Martin School should be a unique, interdisciplinary research community designed to address the most pressing global challenges and opportunities of the 21st century, using rigorous interdisciplinary research to find solutions. This is vital because the problems facing humanity will become so severe, but so also are its new opportunities. A new methodology was needed for interdisciplinary research and problem-solving, and this came to pervade the Oxford Martin School.

The School now has over 30 institutes and projects concerned with different aspects of the future, from the governance of climate change to the possibilities of quantum physics; from the future of food to the implications of an ageing population; and from new economic thinking to nanotechnology in medicine. Each institute can only function by integrating multiple disciplines, and now separate institutes are becoming connected. Together, the different issues of the School connect to form an understanding of our future. The School has over 300 post-doctorate scholars and professors, working across the University of Oxford.

Martin was an Honorary Life Fellow of the British Royal Institution, a Fellow of the World Academy of Art and Science, an Honorary Fellow of Keble College, Oxford, and a Senior Fellow of the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at Monterey, California.

He was a Pulitzer nominee for his book The Wired Society which contained remarkably accurate and timely descriptions of the use of computers and the Internet 25 years later. He was ranked fourth in Computer World’s 25th Anniversary Edition’s most influential people in computer technology.

When the School was founded, Martin wrote a book The Meaning of the 21st Century, addressing in detail the most complex and significant technological, political, ethical, social and environmental issues of our day. This book was made into a film, narrated by Michael Douglas.

In 2012, Martin produced a short feature film called Revolution in Oxford in which leading academics talk about the difference the Oxford Martin School is making in Oxford and the world.

He received many awards and medals, including the Sheldon Medal, the highest honour the University of Oxford can bestow, the Sydney Stokes Medal for outstanding achievement in advancing the ideals and spirit of Thomas Jefferson, and the Lifeboat Foundation's Guardian Award which is given to one person each year - including Prince Charles and Stephen Hawking.

Martin had honorary doctorate degrees from all six continents.

Martin died on 24 June 2013.


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