We caught up with Pascal Mowla, our David N. Lyon Scholar at Oriel who is studying for a DPhil in Politics to find out more about the scholarship and his research.
We asked Pascal how the scholarship will support his academic and career goals, He said;
“In addition to the significant financial support that the scholarship provides, I now have the advantage of receiving additional support from Prof. Teresa M. Bejan who will be my academic mentor during my time at Oriel. Having such an accomplished scholar as an academic mentor, in addition to my DPhil supervisors, has helped me to situate my research within a broader context and affords me the chance to receive additional feedback and academic support.
The scope of Pascal’s DPhil topic is to establish and reconsider what a commitment to equality of opportunity requires – of both institutions and individuals. He explains;
“Having spent a number of years in between my studies navigating the labour market, I am aware of the obstacles faced by many when it comes to finding fulfilling work and progressing their careers. Add to this, the fact that rising social immobility consigns many to economic prospects dictated by social circumstance. In elucidating an “ethos” of equality of opportunity, I aim to evaluate the extent to which we should aspire to internalise a conception of equality of opportunity and challenge the notion that a just society can be fully described by a set of rights, laws, or policies. Throughout the thesis, I consider various contemporary challenges for equality of opportunity which include but are not limited to: the illegitimacy of nepotism; artificial intelligence and procedural transparency; affirmative action; and gender and sex inequality in faith schools. In responding to these problems and developing a novel account of equality of opportunity, I hope to reinvigorate the discourse on equality of opportunity and distributive justice. “
One of the things that made Pascal consider study at the University of Oxford was that “As an aspiring political philosopher, Oxford possessed an allure which few institutions can match”.
He explains, “Prior to joining Oxford, I had undertaken degrees in philosophy departments but I always knew that my research interests lied mainly within political and moral philosophy. The Department of Politics and International Relations has an outstanding reputation for producing great research in political philosophy and is home to so many fantastic academics. Knowing that I would have the opportunity to become a part of this community with so many people doing work of great interest to me was very attractive. Additionally, I was aware that I would have opportunities to engage with Oxford’s philosophy department through seminars and lectures which would allow me to continue to engage with work in neighbouring philosophical fields. Finally, I also took some comfort in the fact that Oxford does a lot of work to provide its students with opportunities to further their career ambitions. In an increasingly competitive job market, this is crucially important when searching for work either in or outside of academia”.