Jessica and Peter Frankopan of the Staples Trust have given a major benefaction to fund a Director for the increasingly influential Centre for Gender Studies at Cambridge.

The gift closely reflects the priorities of the husband-wife trustees; their Staples Trust, one of the Sainsbury family charitable trusts, addresses pioneering schemes to do with overseas development, the environment and gender issues.

The generous gift secures the first permanent post of its kind at Cambridge. It will be called the Frankopan Director of Gender Studies in the couple’s honour.

“We are delighted to have ensured the long-term future of Gender Studies at Cambridge,” said Peter and Jessica Frankopan. “The Centre has been home to outstanding and inspirational scholarship that must continue to flourish.”

The University’s Centre for Gender Studies has produced innovative multi-disciplinary gender research since its creation 11 years ago. It is regarded as one of the world’s leading networks of international thinkers in a field deemed fundamental to understanding human experience. The Centre, situated within the University’s School of Physical Sciences, attracts a wealth of world-class scholars and tackles key issues ranging from global development to the impact of biomedical advances.

“Understanding how gender works in the world is a demanding analytical task, and a subject that is still in the early stages of development,” said Professor Juliet Mitchell, founding director of the Centre.“ Jessica and Peter Frankopan's support gives permanence to our cutting-edge research and teaching, further establishing the University’s leading role in this vibrant and essential field of study.”

The first Frankopan Director of Gender Studies, taking up the post in October, is Dr Jude Browne, an authority on gender, equality and the modern labour market. Formerly Executive Director of the Centre, Dr Browne returns to Cambridge from the Sociology Department of Warwick University.

“I am absolutely thrilled to become the first Frankopan Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Gender Studies” said Dr Browne. “For many years, the Centre functioned as a tremendously successful public events programme, post-graduate training resource and international network of scholars. But now, thanks to the generous endowment of Peter and Jessica Frankopan, the Centre can start a process of development that will see it become a world-renowned centre of teaching and research excellence."

"We are currently establishing international research posts and our new multi-disciplinary MPhil starts next year which will uniquely incorporate teaching from all six schools of the University from the sciences to the arts. Also, I am delighted to announce the Centre’s public events programme for this year which will feature such speakers as Catharine MacKinnon, Judith Butler and Larry Kramer.”

Peter and Jessica Frankopan are both graduates of the University, and their involvement with the Centre and academia as a whole has been extensive. Remarkably loyal alumni of Cambridge since graduating from Jesus College in the early 1990s, the Frankopans have provided a variety of grants for University and College initiatives, and hosted the University’s Gender Studies development meetings in London.

Peter Frankopan, a specialist in the history of the Byzantine Empire, took a First Class degree in History at Cambridge. He did his PhD at Oxford, where he was Senior Scholar at Corpus Christi College, and a Senior Research Fellow at Worcester College. Jessica Frankopan read Archaeology and Anthropology at Cambridge, before taking an MSc at the London School of Economics. She worked initially in International Development, and is author of the gender study ‘The New Inequality’.
They are the founders of A Curious Group of Hotels, which includes Cowley Manor, L’Hôtel in Paris and the newly Michelin starred Le Restaurant.

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