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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 22 May 2024. 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 

  • 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
  • Interdisciplinary-TANTRA (तन्त्र): Interdisciplinary TrAnslatioN of ObsteTRic Algorithms: Utrasound is an essential tool in pregnancy care but it needs a very skilled operator. Because of this, some women can’t access ultrasound screening. We seek to change this healthcare inequality by enabling healthcare workers to take a basic pregnancy scan with the help of image analysis algorithms. We will investigate translation of algorithms into settings where they are needed most, exploring the crucial interdisciplinary aspects of technology feasibility (does it work in deployment?) and usability (is it usable by the right people?). We take the project name TANTRA to reflect the systematic approach we propose to follow.
  • Southern Italy in the Mediterranean: An Interdisciplinary Workshop: Scholars once portrayed the Mediterranean as a society governed by archaic codes of honour and shame (Peristiany 1965), or an historic cradle of civilisation eclipsed by the ‘discovery’ of the Atlantic (Braudel 1949). Southern Italy in particular suffered from ‘Orientalist’ stereotypes about the region’s supposed backwardness (Schneider 1998). But the so-called ‘migrant crisis’, has turned Southern Italy into a reluctant borderland, bringing the region, and especially Southern Italy, back into scholarly focus under new terms. This project intends to use an interdisciplinary conference to stimulate conversation on Southern Italy’s relationship with the Mediterranean across disciplinary boundaries.

Contact details

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