The Western Front Association takes great pride in our relationship with The University of Birmingham. The university enjoys an international reputation, not only for the cutting-edge research it undertakes, but also for its outstanding MA programme in British First World War Studies. This enables students to develop their understanding of this titanic conflict in breadth, depth and context and has done so for over a decade now. Many WFA members are graduates of this excellent course and the alumni are involved in many areas of WFA life and Great War research.
Three foundations underpin the relationship we have. Firstly, the university receives WFA support, not only from individual members, but also institutionally from the WFA’s Executive Committee and from the many branches up and down the country. MA students, to give just one example, compete for WFA prizes for their work.
The photograph above shows Andy Powell receiving the WFA’s prize for best dissertation from President Professor Peter Simkins at the President’s Conference in July 2014.
Secondly, excellence depends on outstanding people. Over the years the MA course has been led and taught by leading lights of the WFA. But it takes more than outstanding teaching to deliver great learning. The university needs keen and bright students, too, building a vibrant community which supports and encourages everyone to learn from each other. And this is where – thanks in large part to the WFA members who have joined in – the university values the WFA’s relationship, not only on their MA (and, indeed, undergraduate) courses, but also in the seminar series it holds, free and open to all, every Tuesday night, the Great War Centenary Lecture Series running over the next four years, or the annual John Terraine Lecture.
This leads on to the third foundation, which is one of the strongest bonds which ties us together. It takes years properly to take root and develop: a deep and lasting commitment to educating people in the history of the Great War. The best way that we can pay our respect to the memory, courage and comradeship of those who fought, is to try to understand them and their world better, and to pass that understanding and knowledge on.
If you’d like to take part in any of the university’s Great War activities, please go to www.birmingham.ac.uk/war, or e-mail Dr Jonathan Boff, direct on