Alumni Profile:
Dr. Jayson Waters

Class of 2010

Dr Jayson Waters graduated from Oak Grove in 2010. Originally from Australia, he attended the school as a boarder on a scholarship program funded by the American, British, and Australian Krishnamurti Foundations. He shares his Oak Grove story and talks about his work in Quantum Meta-Ethics at the University of Sydney.

WatersI am a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Sydney, a lecturer at the Australian National University, and a lead researcher on the Quantum Meta-Ethics (QM-E) Project. The QM-E Project is a research initiative of the Centre for International Security Studies at the University of Sydney and is funded by the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Coincidently, I work on the QM-E Project with a fellow Oak Grove alum, Gabi Skoff (2010). My research focuses on the emergent subfield of quantum international relations, which broadly seeks to do three things: discern the implications of quantum mechanics for social and political theory; anticipate what quantum technologies (quantum computers, sensors, etc.) might mean for war, peace, and security; and remake international relations into an interdisciplinary human science.

I grew up in the Northern Beaches of Sydney. It was a great area to grow up – walking distance to some of the best beaches in the world – and I had an outstanding childhood with regular interludes abroad. Most of these were to visit my grandparents in Kerala, India, but my most profound and lasting educational experiences occurred in Ojai. I attended Oak Grove School as a boarder on a scholarship – organized by Mark Lee – that was largely paid for by the American, British, and Australian Krishnamurti Foundations and generously topped-up by Oak Grove staff, students, families, and alumni. I was 14 years old, rather shy, gangly, and alone (brave parents!) when I arrived. Yet I never felt alone. I quickly found another family in my fellow boarders, classmates, and teachers, and I felt a stronger sense of community than I had previously or have since.

“Looking back, I can see numerous ways in which my time at Oak Grove prepared me for my future. Alongside the core curriculum, I was encouraged to be self-reflective and aware, traits that are all too often underappreciated and undervalued.”

Looking back, I can see numerous ways in which my time at Oak Grove prepared me for my future. Alongside the core curriculum, I was encouraged to be self-reflective and aware, traits that are all too often underappreciated and undervalued. Oak Grove also nurtured within me an appreciation of wholism or “seeing the big picture” which, again, is undervalued in a world dominated by reductionism. Oddly, though unsurprisingly in hindsight, my interest in quantum mechanics also began at Oak Grove. Jiddu Krishnamurti and the renegade physicist David Bohm maintained a lifelong friendship, engaged in countless public dialogues (many of which took place at Oak Grove), and greatly influenced each other’s thinking and writing. I was aware of the Bohm-Krishnamurti connection before heading to Oak Grove, but I became more interested in the topic while I was there. Immersed in the incomparable beauty of the Ojai Valley, I read Bohm’s Wholeness and the Implicate Order, Werner Heisenberg’s Physics and Philosophy: The Revolution in Modern Science, and many other texts.

I returned to Australia after graduating from Oak Grove and completed a Bachelor of International Studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, largely relegating my interest in the natural sciences to a back burner. However, this interest was reignited in 2014, when I enrolled in a Master of International Relations program at the University of Sydney. Here I became involved with Project Q, beginning a decade of collaboration with its director, James Der Derian, on quantum international relations. I followed up my Master’s with a PhD in international relations (also at the University of Sydney and supervised by Der Derian), and today, I am one of only three people in the world with a PhD in this emergent subfield.

Without hyperbole, I cannot express how grateful I am to have attended Oak Grove School, how influential the experience was for me, or how indebted I am to the Oak Grove community.

This alumni bio was featured in the 2023 Fall Annual Fundraising Tea program. We thank Jason for sharing with us!

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