For the past twenty years, the Media Policy Summer Institute has brought together top early career scholars (including advanced PhD students, post-docs and lecturers), media lawyers and regulators, human rights activists, and policymakers from countries around the world to discuss the effects of technology, media, and policy from a global and multidisciplinary perspective. Participants take part in an intensive and interdisciplinary two-week program in Oxford that blends expert instruction with participatory activity, group work, and discussion. With 30 participants each year, hailing from more than 20 countries, the Media Policy Summer Institute has long offered participants unrivaled exposure to the diverse experiences of its global participants as well as a uniquely informed comparative view of their different media and digital environments. 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.
This year, the Summer Institute will focus on the theme of Technology & Policy at the Margins.
The internet and other new technologies are rapidly and irreversibly changing global media environments presenting enormous challenges for building policies that both understand the scope of new technologies like artificial intelligence, biometrics, and social media, and can adequately protect the rights of the media and people using them. With the arrival of Europe’s new General Data Protection Regulation and social media giants like Facebook and Google being brought to testify before Congress in the Unites States, the last year has shown just how urgent it is to make sense of how our online media lives should and should not be governed.
While understanding this changing technology and media landscape is vital in any context, it raises particularly pressing issues for vulnerable populations living “at the margins”. Many, like refugees, Internally Displaced People, those living through conflict, under threat of attack, or under an internet shutdown often lack the ability to advocate for their digital rights or live under regimes that dismiss those rights in part or entirely. With this in mind, this year’s Summer Institute will focus on five key themes through which we will explore many of these challenges to policy and practice, with a particular focus on their effect on populations “at the margins” broadly understood. The five themes are:
- Extreme speech online
- Biometric technology in vulnerable populations
- Innovative efforts to connect the unconnected
- Algorithmic bias and inequality
- Internet shutdowns