Dame Stephanie Shirley

Oxford University is creating the world's first truly multidisciplinary Internet Institute based in a major university.

The Oxford Internet Institute's aim is "to become the world's leading independent centre of excellence in academic research on the impact of the Internet on society, and in informing policy and generating debate." Located at 1 St Giles, the OII has appointed William Dutton (previously Professor at The Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern California) as Director in 2002. He also became Oxford's first Professor of Internet Studies and a Fellow of Balliol College.

The Oxford Internet Institute was made possible by a major donation from The Shirley Foundation of over £10m, with public funding totalling over £5m from the Higher Education Funding Council for England.

The idea originated with Derek Wyatt MP, was quickly espoused by Colin Lucas, Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, and Andrew Graham, then Master-Elect of Balliol. Two Balliol Fellows, who knew Dame Stephanie from The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, approached Dame Stephanie for support.

With her strong interest in IT and her penchant for strategic donations, she quickly gave the project her warm support. As she said when the project was first announced, on 4 May 2001, "for some time now I have been very interested in the social, ethical and other issues raised by the Internet. These are global concerns and I am delighted that my funding has provided Oxford Internet Institute with the firm foundation required to attract public, and in due course further private, financial backing. I am confident that the Institute will enable Britain to play a leading and authoritative role in this important area".

The Institute will build on Oxford's expertise in social science and humanities research in order to offer objective, independent investigation into issues of community, public policy and governance arising from the spread of the Internet. The Institute will also facilitate conferences, engage in collaborative research and, in due course, develop an educational programme at graduate level.

Possible research areas include: global law enforcement, governance and regulation, privacy and security, confidentiality and trust, the boundaries of the nation state, participation in the information society, e-Government, the delivery of public services, e-democracy, Internet-enabled healthcare, innovation and knowledge creation, effects on education, the digital divide, problems and prospects for e-money, impact on music and the creative arts community building and development, and defence and counter-terrorism.

For further information please go to www.oii.ox.ac.uk.

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