Tag Archives: OII

Take a Chance In Presenting

By: Jenny Korn

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” — Eleanor Roosevelt

Congratulations! You got into OII, and you’re gonna make memories, for sure. One of those memories might involve your (mandatory) presentation during your two weeks in the OII SDP. Now that you’re here, what kind of presentation are you going to share?

Depending on the order you were given, you might have the benefit of watching others present before you. You’ll note that some folk will give rehearsed presentations on material familiar to them. They will exhibit little anxiety as they share their research in ways that they have done before in front of other academic audiences. And you are welcome to give that type of presentation because the OII does not set requirements for the talks you give while here.

However, I would encourage you to choose to take a chance when you present. During my OII SDP experience in 2015, I was impressed by my peers. They were smart and passionate. And they gave excellent feedback, paying close attention to our presentations. To receive thoughtful suggestions from such an intelligent, knowledgeable audience was an opportunity I wanted to seize, but I was scared to share new research that had not been tested yet. Still, using my OII presentation as my deadline, I finally made myself write up ideas that had been percolating for years.

So, on July 9, 2015, I did something I’ve never done before and haven’t done since: I presented actual work-in-progress. Up until then, my experience with academia was that our peer audiences reward only pretty-much completed research shared in an understandable way. But what about the initial stages of development of our work? Where do we share the beginnings of research with little data collection? I discovered that an answer was the OII SDP. What I presented was rough, unpolished, and real. I felt vulnerable and nervous. But I also felt determined and hopeful.

It wasn’t until I presented this material for the first time that I realized how much my project meant to me, which was evident in my being moved to tears. I was surprised (and embarrassed) at how emotional I got during my presentation, but I am grateful that I was surrounded by the caring and kind colleagues that made up the OII cohort of 2015 (y’all know who you are). And I appreciate Vicki’s immediate hug, compassion that I will remember always. When was the last time you gave a scholarly presentation and received a hug in response? The OII SDP is full of positively delightful surprises.

Whichever method or issue you choose to present during your OII experience, I wish you good luck. If you see a colleague struggling during the presentation, extend some empathy. If you are that person, know that you are not alone. If there’s anything I may do personally to support you in your journey, please contact me on Twitter @JennyKorn and at http://twitter.com/JennyKorn or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/JenKorn. I welcome your questions and highly recommend you say “yes” to risk-taking. And to punting.

Welcome to our growing community of OII SDP peers, alumni, and faculty!


JennyKornJenny Korn is a scholar-activist of race, gender, identity, and media with academic training in communication, sociology, theatre, public policy, and gender studies from Princeton, Harvard, Northwestern, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she is a doctoral student.

OII SDP 2015, or the place where I learned about the Internet through Wormhole Cats, Punting Mishaps, and Magic Mike XXL

By: Luis Felipe Alvarez León

During the summer of 2015 I attended the OII Summer Doctoral Programme. I applied because I thought it would be a good way to start off my last year in the PhD and (finally!) bring together the different parts of my doctoral research. A friend and colleague, Cameran Ashraf, had attended the 2013 SDP and had recommended I apply. Noting the positive terms in which he spoke of this programme certainly generated high expectations on my part. However, these were surpassed by the personally and professionally transformative experience that I had at SDP this past summer.

From the first day it was clear that this was much more than an academic gathering or a place to discuss ideas and works in progress. The combination in terms of disciplines, experiences, backgrounds and personalities present within our group enabled a process of community building that began almost immediately. This allowed attendees to develop a sense of comfort in sharing their ideas, debating them and getting feedback in an honest, open, respectful, and productive environment. Beyond the terms of our research, the exchanges and interactions at SDP had the rare quality of getting participants to reflect on core components of our outlook on the world, such as the preconceptions, assumptions, and beliefs underlying our academic and everyday practice. This was done in an setting characterized by trust, intellectual rigor and respect that allowed us to push each other to sharpen our ideas, go beyond our comfort zone, and even address the difficulties, challenges and (sometimes) risks associated with our research.

The schedule at SDP combined in equal parts presentations by OII and guest faculty, students, and social activities. These three parts were organically woven into a two-week long intensive experience that was as challenging as it was enjoyable. Presentations by guest faculty were representative of the wide range of state-of-the-art research done across the disciplines tackling the role of digital technologies in the lives of individuals and societies. While, given the diversity of the group, not everybody was an expert in each of the subfields and topics presented, this made for very interesting discussions full of productive engagements between people with complementary perspectives. Student presentations showcased dissertation proposals, chapters and other works in progress. Each of these presentations was given full attention by the faculty and the group of students, and as a result created a context were productive feedback and positive engagement were the norm. Finally, the range of scheduled and impromptu social activities were crucial building blocks of a genuine group atmosphere and community building process that transcended the academic and formed lasting personal bonds.

All of this, it must be said, was made possible by the hard work, enthusiasm and clockwork organization of the OII SDP faculty and staff, led by Vicki Nash, whose warmth, cheerfulness, and intellectual generosity are imprinted on this program’s DNA. At the height of summer, set amongst Oxford’s thousand-year old architectural and historical landmarks, beautiful gardens and hubs of cutting-edge scholarship, the SDP manages to integrate creative work and fruitful intellectual exchange into a challenging and welcoming environment that strengthens both individual careers and community ties. I can’t wait to visit again.

Huge thanks and props to the OII SDP staff team (Jordan Copeland, Tim Davies, Karen Mead, Duncan Passey), as well as the featured faculty (Andy Przybylski, Chris Foster, Greg Taylor, Bernie Hogan, Ralph Schroeder, Rebecca Eynon, Marcus Foth, Reynol Junco, Scott Hale, Homero Gil de Zúñiga, Jonathan Albright, Kerk Kee, Christoph Lutz, Taha Yasseri, Stuart Shulman, Helen Margetts, Joss Wright, Eric Meyer, Kathryn Eccles, Vicki Nash, William McGeveran), and of course the amazing #OIISDP2015 cohort!


LFAL_Oxford_2015_cropLuis Felipe Alvarez León is a PhD Candidate in Geography at UCLA studying the political, economic and regulatory dimensions of the digital economy.

Home: lfal.org // Twitter: @lfalvarezleon

“It is difficult not to become enamored with the enchantment of the city” — Frances Bachstein remembers her time at SDP2015

By: Frances Nichols Bachstein

Chimes softly ring through the stately vine covered walls of the ancient bastion of learning marking a lovely new day. The stone streets begin to fill with the first tour groups of the morning as you walk past famous landmarks and buildings to Balliol College where a smile greets you with a friendly welcome at the door. Fresh coffee and tea wafts through the bright and modern corridors as it guides you to the fresh possibilities of learning.

It is difficult to place into words how the OII’s Summer Doctoral Programme profoundly influenced my dissertation work! Vicki Nash, and the staff of the OII foster such a great safe environment to share and explore the students’ work. My collegues’ research encompasses the globe, and held a common thread of shared interests and issues. As a group, we explored and shared our experiences with research, articles, concepts, mental health, and coping with the stressors of life and work balance. The guest lecturers are at the top of their fields and imparted fascinating information, techniques, and advice for ‘winning the academic game’.

Lunches were amazing, congregating on the verdant lawn of the courtyard of Balliol College discussing the highlights of the morning conversations. It is truly brilliant when ego is set aside and a variety of topics are earnestly discussed in a non-threatening manner. Academics were only part of the charm of OII. Punting on the Thames was truly an Oxford experience. The punts are given to novices and it often acts more as bumper boats than their true purpose. However, the stressors of the day float away as you enjoy strawberries and Prosecco with new friends and soak in the sun of a bright Oxford afternoon. Picnicking in the meadows, running through the streets into the early morning mists of Christ Church Meadow, experiencing a ghost tour, bowling, exploring the many museums, and a pint with new friends are some of the social side of OII, which ensorcells the stay.

Oxford is more than ancient buildings and new ideas, it is Narnia, Wonderland, Hogwarts, and Middle Earth! It is difficult not to become enamored with the enchantment of the city as you lounge on a roof top bar with the sun setting in the azure sky over the Bodleian Library, or enjoying a good meal in a quaint garden restaurant far from the bustle of the cobble streets. Like all good things, the enchantment must end. You sit in great hall of Hertford College and think of all the other scholars who graced the hall before you, as the candles are lit for a fantastic formal dinner, marking the end of the OII SDP2015. Although leaving Oxford is bittersweet you find a renewed energy for your work and camaraderie with new colleagues! I highly recommend the programme.


picture-483-1444770899 SDP2015 alumna Frances Nichols Bachstein is a PhD Candidate at the University of Tennessee. Her dissertation research focuses on secrecy in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields and the communication process of scientific disclosure; with a particular interest in nuclear agencies, institutional trust, ways to promote understanding to vulnerable or uninformed parts of the population, physical and cyber security, and social media.