History of the Institute

For the past twenty years, the Oxford Summer Institute has brought together top early career communications scholars, media lawyers and regulators, human rights activists, technologists and policymakers from countries around the world to discuss the effects of technology, media, and policy from a global and multidisciplinary perspective. As an integral part of Oxford’s Programme in Comparative Media Law and Policy (PCMLP) and the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, the Institute has built a strong global network of alumni and faculty who are leaders within the global freedom of expression community.

The central aims of the Institute are fourfold: 1) to broaden and expand the pool of talented young scholars & practitioners working in these fields; 2) to connect them to elite scholars and practitioners from around the world; 3) to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue; and 4) to build space for future collaborations. With over 30 participants each year, hailing from more than 20 countries around the world, the Media Policy Summer Institute has long offered participants unrivalled exposure to the diverse experiences and media environments of its global participants and speakers.

The Institute’s alumni are an exceptional and vibrant group who stay engaged and collaborate well past the end of the 2-week Summer Institute through the active alumni network. Many go on to become leaders at top government agencies, corporations, non-profits, and academic institutions around the world.


For ten years, the Center for Global Communication Studies (CGCS), in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, led by Professor Monroe Price, has been a key partner in making the Summer Institute what it is today. With Annenberg’s global excellence in media studies and PCMLP’s historic expertise in law and policy, particularly in the Global South, this partnership has provided participants with a rich pool of experts and expertise from which to draw. While CGCS has since closed its doors, the partnership with Annenberg remains strong, with both students and faculty from Annenberg actively participating in the Summer Institute.

The 2019 Institute

The 2019 Media Policy Summer Institute brought together 40 participants hailing from more than two dozen countries for two weeks to debate and discuss cutting edge issues around technology, media, and policy from a global and multidisciplinary perspective. The Institute was held in the delightful gardens of Pembroke College in the centre of Oxford. For the first time the institute was co-organized with a partner from the global south, the University of Johannesburg.  As in years past, the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania was also a co-organizer.

The 2019 Institute focused on key themes including extreme speech online; innovative efforts to connect the unconnected; algorithmic bias and inequality; and the increasing influence of AI.  We heard from leading experts in the field, and explored in depth issues such as the UK’s new white paper on Online Harms with OfCom, we debated internet shutdowns with those that have been involved with arguing such cases before the African Court of Human Rights, and we linked up with local groups working on community networks. This opportunity to bring together practitioners (for example, from the International Red Cross, BBC Media Action and Facebook) with leading academics from universities such as Oxford, the LSE, and Kings College London created rich opportunities for fertilizing fresh perspectives and new connections. We were delighted to have speakers came from around the world participate, from Somalia, Nigeria, Italy, Hungary, the US, among others, that brought with them a global perspective and diverse approaches.

Photos from the 2019 Summer Institute