A transformational investment in the way Oxford teaches, researches and shares the humanities with the public has been announced today. The £150 million gift from Stephen A Schwarzman will establish a new centre that will draw on Oxford's world-renowned expertise in the humanities to inform our understanding and appreciation of the human experience.

The centre will be built on the historic Radcliffe Observatory Quarter and will bring together Oxford's programmes in English, history, linguistics, philology and phonetics, medieval and modern languages, music, philosophy, and theology and religion to enable cross-disciplinary and collaborative study. It will include a 500-seat concert hall, a 250-seat film screening auditorium, as well as flexible performance and exhibition spaces for music, dance and art. These venues will feature programming from Oxford students and faculty, local community-based organisations and leading international artists. They will also provide public space for festivals and other cultural celebrations.

The Radcliffe Humanities Building. Photo by TORCH

The centre will be home to Oxford’s new Institute for Ethics in AI, which will build on the University's capabilities to translate a humanities perspective into the discourse around the ethical issues that machine-learning technologies present.

Mr Schwarzman, philanthropist and chairman, CEO and co-founder of Blackstone, the world's largest alternative investment firm said: 'I'm proud to support and help Oxford develop its long-term dream of integrating its humanities faculties to promote cross-disciplinary scholarship in the area of Oxford's historic global strength. I'm glad that Oxford will be able to further its engagement with local and global communities, as well as focus on the important issues raised by the development of artificial intelligence and its potential impact on society. My gift comes during a time of unprecedented political uncertainty in the UK, and is evidence of my confidence in the country's future.'

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson said: 'This generous donation from Stephen A Schwarzman marks a significant endorsement of the value of the humanities in the 21st century and in Oxford University as the world leader in the field. The new centre will open a vibrant cultural programme to the public and will enable Oxford to remain at the forefront of both research and teaching, while demonstrating the critical role the humanities will play in helping human society navigate the technological changes of the 21st century.'