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Balliol Interdisciplinary Institute

The Balliol Interdisciplinary Institute (BII) cultivates and supports interdisciplinary research in Balliol College, straddling the humanities, the social sciences, and the physical and medical sciences. The Institute provides opportunities for Senior Members, graduate students and alumni to propose and lead pioneering research projects that

  • require contributions from more than one discipline;
  • have high potential impact;
  • and may be radical or speculative in nature.

Types of research projects supported

The BII supports both gestational projects and more fully fledged proposals. Pioneering interdisciplinary research sometimes requires a period of open-ended exploration and time to build strong teams. By helping gestational projects, the BII can facilitate experimental freedom with low risk, or it can boost more developed projects that are still small in scale or require only modest resources. More mature projects oriented towards sharply defined outcomes may benefit from leveraging BII support in order to attract more external funding. 

Applications for BII funding are now being invited. To apply, please download and complete the application form by 5.00pm, Wednesday 23 November 2022. See also this financial guidance for applicants.

Balliol Research Committee

  • Dr Sebastian Shimeld (Chair of the Balliol Research Committee; Associate Professor, Julian Huxley Fellow and Tutor in Zoology)
  • Dame Helen Ghosh (Master)
  • Dr Nicola Trott (Senior Tutor)
  • Dr John-Paul Ghobrial (Associate Professor, Lucas Fellow and Tutor in History)
  • Sir Charles Godfray (Director, Oxford Martin School)
  • Mrs Elinor Richardson (BII Administrator)

Some current BII research projects 

  • AI with Impact: Oxford-India Biodesign Workshops: This project proposes to use the needs-led innovation and ideation process to identify applications for machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) to address some of the most pressing clinical needs in limited-resource settings in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC).
  • Hiding in Plain Sight: The Construction of Invisibility. Invisibility is one of the difficulties of our individual research projects, which examine minority figures such as women readers and enslaved black Africans in the medieval and early modern period. Looking at the two pictures below long enough, however, one comes to accept that there are two readers gazing in that book, and to discover that there is someone under the red beret. In this project the researchers have decided to turn this crux into a strength, and propose a more conceptual and interdisciplinary inquiry into the theme of invisibility itself; what is invisibility, and how is it constructed? Which disciplines are concerned with the invisible? Which power structures, narratives, and rhetorics are involved in the construction of the invisible? And; is invisibility always a handicap or can it be an asset? 
  • Philosophy and Borders working group: This aims to provide a forum for researchers, at Oxford University and beyond, working on the various moral issues that global migration gives rise to.
  • Oxford China Policy Lab: US-China great power rivalry has created areas of competition throughout the world, leaving third countries vulnerable to political, economic, and cultural pressures from both sides. The BII grant will be used to focus specifically on critical technology as a key area of competition between the United States and China.
  • Oceania and Oxford [O&O] is a two-year genealogical project to study and strengthen the University of Oxford’s ties to the Oceania region. Led by students of Pasifika, Māori and Indigenous Australian heritage, O&O will explore Oxford’s colonial legacies in Oceania, catalogue Oceanian students’ and alumni experiences, and connect researchers within Oxford. 
  • Oxford University Reader’s Guide to Ethical Migration Reporting: This project will produce and launch an evidence-based, peer-reviewed publication to: firstly, empower consumers to read migration reporting critically; secondly, provide commentators with a framework for assessing articles; and thirdly, to guide journalists

Contact details

For all enquiries, please email Elinor Richardson or write to Balliol Interdisciplinary Institute, Balliol College, Oxford OX1 3BJ.