In 2013 the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme visited Toronto, kindly hosted by the University of Toronto’s iSchool. In this student-produced video, the SDP2013 students discuss the programme, why Internet research is important, and share their favourite moments.
Further transformations in higher education are coming — and Randy Lynn (SDP2013) hopes that the future looks a bit like the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme: encouraging international and multidisciplinary participants, collaborative and supportive relationships, and comprehensive engagement of the scholarly issues that mutually excite us. Randy is a Presidential Scholar at George Mason, with research interests at the intersections of youth, education, digital media, and social networks. He writes:
A glib title? Sure. But perhaps not as hyperbolic as you think.
After all, it’s no secret that a revolution has already come to higher education, dating roughly from the time Ronnie Reagan and Maggie Thatcher came to power on either side of the pond. The legacy of that revolution has been students as consumers, contingent faculty as a new category of working poor, and administrators second only to optometrists in how often they talk about their “vision.”
But there are other adverse legacies with which aspiring scholars must contend, such as the balkanization of academic disciplines. If truth and grant money are the two driving forces of contemporary academia, the firm belief that the particular theories and methods of my little fiefdom can beat up the theories and methods of your little fiefdom isn’t far behind.
Those of us who have forayed into Internet studies are a new type of scholar. Not because what we study is new, but because we’re uniquely situated at the threshold of what hinders academia –both old and new.
It’s always nice to hear from SDP alumni; to find out why they applied, what they got out of the programme, and what they are up to now. Ioana Literat is a doctoral candidate at USC Annenberg, where she is studying participatory practices of collective creativity, as mediated by digital technology. She discusses her time in Toronto as a student on the 2013 Summer Doctoral Programme:
As doctoral students, we are in a line of work where we’re taught to emphasize the differences rather than the similarities. Find your niche, your adviser tells you. Distinguish yourself from your peers. Be an expert in your own unique domain. We are taught that the ingredients that seem key to a successful academic career are, at their core, all about difference, originality, individuality, and ultimately, standing apart from your peers.
But what if we started putting an emphasis on our similarities for a change? Taking part in the Oxford Internet Institute’s 2013 Summer Doctoral Program made me see that, although our personal circumstances and research interests may be different, as PhD students and young scholars, we are bound by the same challenges, goals, hopes and fears. Our research community can also function as a support system, but — for a variety of reasons — we do not sufficiently take advantage of this support system. My experience in the SDP in Toronto made me fully aware of how valuable this resource can be. It made me see points of convergence, rather than points of divergence, between my own personal and professional paths and those of my peers. It made me (re)appreciate the value of solidarity, whether that means sharing a call for papers, venting about the job market, or talking about motherhood in academia. It made me realize that I am not alone, in spite of how isolated I often feel, sitting in front of my laptop at my study desk.
OII Research Fellow Bernie Hogan is a regular fixture on the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme, tutoring and leading seminars on social networking. Having obtained his PhD from the University of Toronto he is well-placed to comment on this summer’s SDP, which is being hosted by the University of Toronto’s iSchool. So why is Toronto such a great place to hold the SDP? Bernie writes:
Originally named for a cross-cultural meeting place, Toronto, has sought to maintain that reputation to this day. Toronto is many things to many people, a place rich in cultural and ethnic diversity. It is Canada’s largest city and capital of its largest province of Ontario. Its skyline is defined by the iconic CN Tower, built for radio and television transmissions in 1976. For 34 years, it was the world’s tallest free-standing structure. Although that title has fallen by the wayside, it might still be the glitziest with its new LED array illuminating seasonal themes, from Christmas to Gay Pride to Caribana. The tower stands as simultaneously as a symbol of how communication can transcend space and time and yet how communication is so obviously tethered to one’s immediate surroundings.
CN Tower, like much of the city, is striving to keep pace in a global digital world. It’s a theme that permeates the aesthetic of Toronto’s architecture. Within walking distance of the University, the Royal Ontario Museum has had a hypermodern metallic facelift by Daniel Libeskind, while the Art Gallery of Ontario has had a more subtle postmodern hockey-themed façade by hometown boy Frank Gehry. Meanwhile, the unmistakable ‘table top’ Sharp Centre for Design for the Ontario College of Art and Design continues to charm and confuse.
Toronto’s vibrant present has stood on the shoulders of its rich past. Harold Innis, author of Empire and Communication, taught there in the first half of the 20th Century. So did one of his most strident fans: the enigmatic and wide-ranging Marshall McLuhan, whose colloquialisms such as ‘The Medium is the Message’ and ‘the Global Village’ were like beacons from a future that is only now arriving. Continue reading
The Oxford Internet Institute (OII) is delighted to announce that its eleventh annual Summer Doctoral Programme (SDP) will be held in collaboration with the iSchool at the University of Toronto from 8-19 July 2013.
Professor Seamus Ross, Dean of the iSchool, and a previous Visiting Fellow at OII, welcomed the collaboration saying: “The opportunity for the UofT iSchool to partner with the OII on its internationally acclaimed summer school in 2013 is exciting. The bringing together of exceptional students from across the globe with OII and iSchool academics will provide a dynamic learning opportunity for all of us — we really welcome it.”