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Moving Forward Following The EU Referendum

As disappointing as I find Britain’s self-exclusion, it is important to remember that over the centuries, academic institutions have survived upheavals and crises. Many collaborated across borders long before the formation of the EU member states. The University of Pisa, for instance, was established in 1343, but had its renaissance in the 17th century when Pisa was ruled from Florence by the Medicis. Like post-colonial Britain, post-colonial Pisa was a great centre of learning and just as battered by controversy. In seventeenth century Europe, heliocentrism was as divisive as Britain’s membership of the EU. When Galileo Galilei, that eminent Pisan, was called before the Roman Inquisition for supporting Copernicus’ theory that the earth moves round the sun rather than vice versa, he had to promise to ‘abjure, curse and detest’ the heresy. Deep seated religious beliefs held more sway than evidence in Pisa.