Baroness Onora O’Neill (PPP, 1959) has been made a Companion of Honour in the New Year’s Honours, for services to Philosophy and Public Policy. This outstanding distinction is held by only 65 people at any one time, and is awarded for work of exceptional national and international importance. Baroness Onora O’Neill is an Honorary Fellow of Somerville, and in a message to the Principal she described how she has recently been reminded of the debt she owes to her Philosophy tutor Elizabeth Anscombe, and therefore to the College. Her introduction to the second edition of her first book, Acting on Principle, which was published in December 2013 after an interval of thirty-five years since first publication, describes the intellectual roots and subsequent development of her own work as a philosopher, including those that began during her years as a Somerville undergraduate. Among the many high-level positions that Baroness Onora O’Neill has occupied with such distinction ( e.g.President of the British Academy, Principal of Newnham College Cambridge, she is currently chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission; and in October 2013 she gave a talk to the Somerville Lawyers Group meeting at Matrix chambers, on “Why are Human Rights so Difficult?”. Somerville extends to Baroness Onora O’Neill its warmest congratulations and admiration on her becoming a Companion of Honour.
Professor Marian Dawkins, (Zoology, 1963) Emeritus Professor of Animal Behaviour and Emeritus Fellow of Somerville College, was appointed CBE for services to animal welfare. Her research interests include the welfare of farm animals, vision in birds, animal signalling, behavioural synchrony, and animal consciousness. Professor Dawkins said: ‘I hope the award will be seen as an acknowledgement that animal welfare has now become a scientific subject in the sense that what animals do and the effects of what is done to them can now be assessed scientifically. Animal welfare was not so long ago thought to be completely unscientific. I am very pleased if I have made some small contribution to helping it become a science.’
Professor Dawkins is the author of several books, the most recent of which is entitled “ Why Animals Matter”, and has recently received a grant of over £700,000 for her research into chicken welfare and behaviour.