Jane Camblin

Doctor of Laws

Friday 22 July 2016 at 4 pm - Orator: Professor Susan Harrow

Mr Pro Vice-Chancellor,

Today we honour a Bristol graduate in English and Russian, who has made a distinguished contribution to international education and to the promotion of intercultural values.

Jane Camblin is Head and Executive Director of the United Nations International School in New York. She leads a remarkable institution, for the UN International School educates 1,600 students who are representative of 130 nationalities and who between them speak more than 95 languages. Jane Camblin’s mission – and her vision for her students and their teachers – combines the pursuit of academic excellence with a deep commitment to civic service and to global citizenship.

Jane Camblin’s career is international in its geography and bold in its advocacy of intercultural values. That career, and her life’s adventure, began on Woodland Road, just a hundred yards from here, in the 1970s. Here Jane studied for her Bachelor of Arts Honours degree in English and Russian; she graduated in this very hall in 1973. Jane found undergraduate studies stimulating; she seized numerous cultural opportunities, and made many sustaining friendships. The early 1970s were an exciting time for students at Bristol: Ziggy Stardust was playing at the Colston Hall, whilst on campus there was great anticipation at the opening of a state-of-the-art arts and social sciences library. Jane recalls her thrilling experience of study abroad. She spent a year in what was then the Soviet Union, experiencing both the gruelling winter of Moscow and the balmy climate of the Black Sea city of Sochi, a much-favoured summer destination for Russians in all eras. On graduating from Bristol, Jane swapped northern hemisphere for southern when she flew off to Sydney University to take a graduate degree in teaching English as a Second Language in 1975. Life-long education is central to her values and her practice as an educationalist: in 1992 Jane Camblin was awarded a Master’s Degree in Educational Administration and Bilingual Education at Stanford University.

Prior to her current appointment as Head of the United Nations International School in 2013, Jane Camblin served as head of the French-American International School in San Francisco for nineteen years. She has built a global reputation as an administrator and consultant both in the state sector and in the independent sector. Her achievements have been recognized by numerous prestigious awards. Jane was awarded a Sarah D. Barder Outstanding Educator Fellowship by Johns Hopkins University; and she is the recipient of a Klingenstein Fellowship from Columbia University.

An international educator, Jane Camblin is defender of the values of intercultural education.  Central to her ethos are ideas that draw on the French Renaissance thinker Montaigne in the pursuit of critical thinking, reciprocity between peoples, and empathy beyond borders. Jane shares with all of us here today a passionate commitment to academic excellence. She believes that the study of modern languages is at the core of our understanding of transnational cultures. Jane Camblin has been a powerful voice for the many cognitive and creative benefits of learning two languages (or more) from a very young age. A major proponent of the International Baccalaureate, she favours curriculum design and development that gathers the best from a variety of national and international methodologies: hers is a blended approach. Until January 2012, Jane Camblin held an elected seat on the International Baccalaureate Heads Council, which provides advice on strategic policy issues. Through her work for the Association of French Schools Overseas, Jane Camblin has been instrumental in uniting France’s Ministry of Education and the International Baccalaureate to create a new International French Baccalaureate Diploma.  In recognition of her distinguished services to culture and education, Ms. Camblin was appointed Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes Académiques by the French Ministry of Education.

Jane Camblin believes that a rational, rigorous, objective foray into all the facts of any given issue, from multiple linguistic and cultural perspectives, is the very essence – the heart and soul – of an international education.  In this Jane Camblin is inspired by the linguist and theorist Noam Chomsky. She shares Chomsky’s concern about the consequences on the global population of a partisan, manipulative and manipulated media corps (particularly in the United States). Jane echoes Chomsky’s despair when he said ‘people don’t know what is happening around them, and, what is even worse, they don’t know that they don’t know’. In education Jane Camblin prizes, and practises, a strong inquiry-based, highly challenging global academic curriculum which leads students to develop their own critically informed viewpoints founded on truth, not on propaganda. 

Jane Camblin has not only contributed widely and prodigiously to international education, but has also taken a pioneering role. Thus she was the founding Chair of the Council of International Schools in the Americas (CIStA). Ms Camblin is currently serving as Vice-Chair of the Council of International Schools (CIS), a membership organisation representing international schools around the world.  She is currently busy as a Board Member of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS). Her mission has extended to humanitarian projects: she has acted as a strategic consultant on a UN mission to Jordan to evaluate and report on the effects of the refugee crisis on childhood education. 

Jane Camblin has been outstanding in her constant service to, and support for, the University of Bristol.  She served from 2010 until 2015 with vision and energy as Chair of the Foundation Board of Bristol University. In this role she took a dynamic lead in promoting ‘Foundation’ status projects as diverse as stem cell research, climate change (on behalf of the University’s Cabot Institute), and theatre conservation.  She has played a remarkable role in the development of the University’s world-renowned archive of British theatre history and of live performance art. Jane was instrumental in the acquisition, in 2015, of the personal archive of one of the twentieth-century’s leading theatrical designers, Oliver Messel.  An exceptional alumna in English and Modern Languages, and a loyal one, Jane Camblin has made very significant achievements in sustaining and developing international networks of Bristol University alumni. Today is an opportunity for us to recognise and to celebrate Jane Camblin’s career-long commitment to service. There is also her dedicated service to local communities in San Francisco. She has committed energetically and pragmatically to community projects that have seen a disused parking lot turned into a space for the San Francisco Jazz, for the Chinese American School, and for the French-American International School.  Another project of Jane’s has seen an abandoned San Francisco city school turned into an early childhood development centre.

So, through her exceptional achievements as a global educator and a path-breaking proponent of intercultural values, Jane Camblin, Bristol graduate, has pursued a vocation of the highest distinction and of continuing significance.  

Mr Pro Vice-Chancellor, I present to you Jane Camblin as eminently worthy of the degree of Doctor of Laws honoris causa.

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